Thursday, February 11, 2016

Laser System Directly Detects Gravity Waves for First Time

Leo with Einstein

Albert Einstein (pictured on right) accurately predicted
the existence of gravitational waves, which have now
been directly detected for the first time. In this photograph,
Dr. Einstein meets with the Amateur Astronomers Association
of Pittsburgh (AAAP), including AAAP Co-Founder
Leo J. Scanlon (left) (who would later become one of the first Buhl
Planetarium lecturers), during the 1934 convention of the American

Association for the Advancement of Science in Pittsburgh.
(Sources: AAAP, Scanlon Family Collection;
Photo Reproduction: © Copyright David Smith)

 By William Harwood, Astronomy / Space Program Consultant for CBS News

A century after Albert Einstein predicted their existence, gravitational waves have finally been detected, tiny ripples in the fabric of space-time that were generated when two massive black holes, spinning around each other and radiating away gravitational energy, crashed together in a space-warping cataclysm, scientists announced Thursday.

At a packed news briefing at the National Press Club in Washington, researchers unveiled the results of recent observations using the U.S.-led Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, or LIGO, project made up of two observing stations, one near Hanford, Washington, and the other 1,800 miles away near Livingston, Louisiana.

On Sept. 14, 2015, during tests of upgraded detectors, the Livingston instruments recorded an unambiguous signal. Seven milliseconds later, a remarkably similar signal was recorded in Hanford.
Scientists studying the signals concluded that two black holes some 1.3 billion light years away, one with about 29 times the mass of the sun and the other with around 36 solar masses, had collided after spiraling closer and closer together at half the speed of light, producing a single black hole with 62 solar masses.

Three solar masses were converted into gravitational waves that radiated outward in all directions. Some of those waves swept through our solar system last September, stretching Earth an infinitesimal amount in one direction and compressing it in a perpendicular direction as they distorted local space.

And that is what the LIGO instruments detected, the first direct evidence of merging black holes and the first unambiguous detection of gravitational waves.

More - Link >>>

Source: CBS News.
              2016 February 11.

PBS Interview on Gravitational Waves Breakthrough with California Institute of Technology Researcher David Reitze:
Link >>>

Related Blog Posts ---

"Centennial: Einstein's General Theory of Relativity." 2015 Nov. 25.

Link >>>


"Laser Observatory May Directly Detect Gravity Waves." 2015 Oct. 7.

Link >>>

                                                               Historic 10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor Telescope at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science.
        2016: 75th Year of Pittsburgh's Buhl Planetarium Observatory
                     Link >>>

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