Groundbreaking Discovery of Low-Frequency Gravitational Waves. Chiming Black Holes and the Hum of the Cosmos: Scientists Confirm Einstein’s Theory
In a historic revelation, scientists have made a groundbreaking discovery of low-frequency gravitational waves, validating Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity over a century after its publication. These waves, which create ripples in the fabric of space-time, are believed to originate from cataclysmic events, such as colliding black holes, supernovae, and colliding neutron stars.
Confirmation of Einstein’s Theory
The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) explains, “The strongest gravitational waves are produced by cataclysmic events such as colliding black holes, supernovae (massive stars exploding at the end of their lifetimes), and colliding neutron stars.” Additionally, LIGO suggests that other gravitational waves may be caused by the rotation of non-perfect spherical neutron stars and remnants of gravitational radiation from the Big Bang.
“It’s like a choir, with all these supermassive black hole pairs chiming in at different frequencies.” stated NANOGrav scientist Chiara Mingarelli.
NANOGrav scientist Chiara Mingarelli describes the discovery as, “It’s like a choir, with all these supermassive black hole pairs chiming in at different frequencies.” This extraordinary observation provides the first-ever evidence of the gravitational wave background, opening a new window of observation on the vast universe.
The Hum of the Cosmos
“Now that we have evidence for gravitational waves, the next step is to use our observations to study the sources producing this hum,” said Sarah Vigeland of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, chair of the NANOGrav detection working group. This low-pitched “hum” of gravitational waves holds vital clues waiting to be explored.
“Those black holes are truly colossal, containing billions of suns’ worth of mass,” explains NANOGrav.
“Nearly all galaxies, including our own Milky Way, have at least one of these behemoths at their core. When two galaxies merge, their supermassive black holes can meet up and begin orbiting one another. Over time, their orbits tighten as gas and stars pass between the black holes and steal energy.”
The scientists were able to find these elusive low-frequency gravitational waves by closely observing pulsars, the remnants of massive stars that emit beams of radio waves from their magnetic poles. These pulsars act as stellar lighthouses, providing crucial data for the detection of gravitational waves.
Time Delay and the Telltale Signs
“As a gravitational wave passes between us and a pulsar, it throws off the radio wave timing,” according to Phys.org. “That’s because, as Albert Einstein predicted, gravitational waves stretch and compress space as they ripple through the cosmos, changing how far the radio waves have to travel.”
This phenomenon causes deviations in the expected arrival timings of pulsar beams, enabling the identification of gravitational waves.
“What’s next is everything. This is just the beginning,” declares Dr. Mingarelli, emphasizing the immense potential for further discoveries and insights.