JUN 02, 2017 07:53 AM PDT

LIGO Detects Gravity Waves for a Third Time

In 2016, gravitational waves were all the rage in the astrophysical community; perhaps 2017 is going to shed more light on them.

LIGO first announced the detection of gravitational waves in February of last year, however they were actually observed far earlier in September of 2015, despite the fact that an official announcement was never released because we didn’t really know what we were looking at.

Then it happened again, in June. The second time, things seemed a little more sound. It was repetitive evidence that these things could actually exist, and it started to make sense of Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

An artist's impression of two black holes merging together to form gravitational waves like those found by LIGO.

Image Credit: IGO/Caltech/MIT/Sonoma State

But now, LIGO is announcing that gravitational waves have indeed been detected for a third time in January of this year, confirming that Einstein’s theory of general relativity is most likely true and that when massive spatial bodies collide with one another, it can be so powerful that it bends and warps the space around it.

“This looks more like general relativity really is the correct theory,” physicist Rob Owen of Oberlin College explains. “This measurement is killing off more of these alternative theories.”

Related: What are gravitational waves, and why are they important?

The third discovery of gravitational waves comes by way of the merging of two individual black holes; one of which had a size of 30 solar masses, and the other with a size of 20 solar masses. The two black holes continued to drift into one another before combining into one.

The merger created a surge of gravitational waves throughout space, and this can be observed. The signal has been traveling towards us for 3 billion years, which means the merger took place a very long time ago and the signal is just now reaching us.

More importantly, researchers say the two black holes that bumped into one another were facing completely different planes, so their alignment wasn't quite identical, which means they were unlikely to have formed out of some sort of binary system, but rather found each other by just floating through the vast vacuum of space.

Related: Gravitational waves and black holes may help reveal dark matter

So far, every gravitational wave signal detected thus far has been observed from the collision of black holes, so it seems to be the norm for this kind of activity. Nevertheless, we don’t seem to find them that often, and that’s something researchers want to change by upgrading our detection equipment and building more observatories that can look for these waves from all directions that the planet faces.

There are certainly many more gravitational waves just waiting to be spotted, and it should be interesting to see what kinds of doors this type of research will open up to our understanding of physics, astrophysics, and the universe as a whole.

Source: Wired

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
JUN 10, 2018
Space & Astronomy
JUN 10, 2018
NASA's Curiosity Rover Finds "Organic Compounds" and More on Mars
The possibility that life once existed on Mars is an idea that has captivated planetary scientists for decades. But new findings uncovered by NASA’s...
JUN 11, 2018
Space & Astronomy
JUN 11, 2018
Are Nanodiamonds to Blame for Anomalous Microwave Emissions?
Astronomers are always attempting to answer the seemingly endless stream of questions that arise from studying outer space. One of the most crucial questio...
JUN 19, 2018
Space & Astronomy
JUN 19, 2018
Watch the Heart of the ESA's ExoMars Rover Endure Stress Testing
The European Space Agency plans to send its ExoMars rover to Mars in 2020 to explore the red planet’s surface for signs of past (or present) life. Bu...
JUN 25, 2018
Space & Astronomy
JUN 25, 2018
NASA Will Study Jupiter's Great Red Spot with the James Webb Space Telescope
Astronomers have been studying Jupiter’s Great Red Spot for decades, and it continues to captivate their attention even today. Several modern observa...
JUL 23, 2018
Space & Astronomy
JUL 23, 2018
Earth is Pretty Small Compared to Everything Else in Space
To you and I, the Earth might seem like a large place. But in astronomical terms, our planet is actually quite small. Comparatively, the gas giant planets...
AUG 28, 2018
Space & Astronomy
AUG 28, 2018
Jupiter's Formation Wasn't Smooth Sailing, Study Suggests
Jupiter is the largest-known planet in the solar system, and planetary scientists have been debating about how it formed for as long as we can remember. Bu...
Loading Comments...