Photograph of the LIGO Hanford installation near Richland, Washington.
(Image Source: LIGO, California Institute of Technology)
By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower
Three American physicists, who developed a Laser observatory which led to the detection of Gravitational Waves, were awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics on Tuesday (October 3). The detection of Gravitational Waves confirmed a prediction of Albert Einstein's 1916 General Theory of Relativity.
Barry C. Barish and Kip S. Thorne of the California Institute of Technology and Rainer Weiss of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology were given the annual award "for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves." LIGO, the Laser observatory, is officially known as the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory.
A new branch of observational Astronomy, Gravitational-Wave Astronomy obtains and studies data from highly-energetic sources of Gravitational Waves such as Black Holes and Supernovae. Although predicted by Dr. Einstein, he had doubted whether Gravitational Waves could ever actually be detected.
The first LIGO installations went on-line in 2002 and collected data through 2010, but found no Gravitational Waves. The National Science Foundation (NSF) continued funding this project in 2008, when enhancements to LIGO were added. Agencies from other nations, such as the Max Planck Society of Germany, United Kingdom Science and Technology Facilities Council, and the Australian Research Council also started providing funding for this Physics experiment.
LIGO consists of two observational facilities: LIGO Livingston Observatory in Livingston, Louisiana and LIGO Hanford Observatory near Richland, Washington, on the campus of the U.S. Department of Energy Hanford Site. The Hanford Site was originally established in 1943 as part of the Manhattan Project's development of plutonium, which was used for the second atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan on 1945 August 9 leading to the end of the Second World War.
The first Gravitational Wave detection was publicly announced on 2016 February 11. The detection occurred on 2015 September 14, just two days after upgraded LIGO detectors had gone on-line. The signal received was designated GW150914, and it matched the predictions of the Theory of General Relativity for the merger of two Black Holes.
A few months later, on 2016 June 15, a second detection was announced. The event, a merger of two more Black Holes, had been recorded on 2015 December 26.
The fourth and most recent LIGO detection occurred in August. Announced just last week, the August 14 coalescence of two more Black Holes was also detected by a similar facility, called the Virgo Detector, near Pisa, Italy.
Internet Links to Additional Information ---
"Gravitational waves from a binary black hole merger observed by LIGO and Virgo." News Release.
AstronomyNow.com / Joint LIGO - Virgo News Release 2017 Sept. 27.
Link >>> https://astronomynow.com/2017/09/27/gravitational-waves-from-a-binary-black-hole-merger-observed-by-ligo-and-virgo/
Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO):
Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LIGO
Gravitational Waves: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravitational_wave
National Science Foundation (NSF):
Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Science_Foundation
Nobel Prize: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nobel_Prize
Nobel Prize in Physics: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nobel_Prize_in_Physics
Related Blog-Post ---
Laser Observatory May Directly Detect Gravity Waves." 2015 Oct. 7.Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2015/10/laser-observatory-may-directly-detect.html
Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.
2017 October 7.
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