“My god. This looks like it’s it.” Kip Thorne, famous physicist, author of “The Science of Interstellar”
Announced just a a few moments ago live from the National Science Foundation, LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) has detected gravitational waves that were produced by binary blackholes colliding billions of years ago.
The discovery was made on Sept 14th, 2015 when two LIGO observatories recorded a signal at the same time, showing all the characteristics the group had been diligently searching for for years. After months of observing to make sure what they were seeing was gravitational waves, they found exactly what one would predict using Einstein’s Theory of Relativity for two massive objects like black holes colliding into each other. Thus was the birth of gravitational wave astronomy.
“What’s really exciting is what comes next!” David Reitze LIGO Lab Executive Director at Caltech
Not only were the waves discovered but this is also the first time this type of system, a binary black hole merger, has ever been proven showing without a doubt that they exist in the universe.
David Reitze put it in perspective. “Each black hole was about 150 km in diameter, a little (or a lot) bigger than the metropolitan Washington D.C. area, packed 30 times the mass of our sun, and then accelerated to half the speed of light. Now take another object the same size and collide them together…As they merge, a huge rush of gravitational waves bursts out, traveling for 1.3 billion years, passing through everything–matter, stars–and eventually reaches Earth.”
How hard is it to measure? Reitze said that if these waves are roughly one 1000th the diameter of a proton. If you were to use LIGO to measure the distance between our star and the next closest star 3.25 light year away, it would be able to detect the width of a human hair.
So it looks as if the enormous risk the National Science Foundation took all those years ago has finally paid off: Einstein’s prediction of gravitational waves have been proven! Check out the video below for more details!