Tue, 20 Aug, 2019

Gravitational Waves

By Sweekriti Gautam

Almost a hundred years after Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves, scientists have finally spotted it on February 1, 2016. A faint rising tone was the first direct evidence of gravitational waves, the ripples in the fabric of space time that Einstein predicted a century ago.

The researchers said that they identified gravitational waves coming from two distant black holes that orbited one another, spiraled inward and smashed together at a high speed to form a single, larger black hole. The waves were formed by the collision of two black holes, one of them 29 times the mass of the sun and the other, 36 times the mass of the sun located 1.3 billion years away from the Earth. The wave was detected by using a pair of a giant laser detector known as Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory. The scientists were able to detect small vibrations from the passing gravitational waves. After detecting the gravitational wave signal, the scientists said they converted it into audio waves and were able to listen to the sounds of the two black holes merging. According to the general theory of relativity, a pair of black holes orbiting around each other lose energy through the emission of gravitational waves, causing them to gradually approach each other and then fragment down much more quickly in the final minutes. During the final fraction of a second, the two black holes collide into each other at nearly one-half the speed of light and form a single more massive black hole, converting a portion of the combined black holes' mass to energy, according to Einstein's formula E=mc2. This energy is emitted as a final strong burst of gravitational waves that LIGO has observed.

The colliding black holes that produced these gravitational waves created a violent storm in the fabric of space and time, a storm in which time speeded up and slowed down, and speeded up again, a storm in which the shape of space was bent in different ways.