Author Topic: Let's detect gravitational waves!  (Read 1061 times)

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Online dpareja

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Let's detect gravitational waves!
« on: December 02, 2015, 09:44:11 pm »
Or, at least, so scientists are hoping:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/lisa-pathfinder-waves-1.3347724

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A satellite that will test technology to detect ripples in space-time left by colliding black holes launches tonight.

The European Space Agency's LISA Pathfinder blasts off at 4:04 a.m. GMT Thursday (11:04 p.m. ET Wednesday). It's designed to make test measurements for a technique that will be used to detect gravitational waves — something in which scientists are greatly interested.

...

Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity predicts that ripples in space-time will be produced by massive objects when they change shape in time — for example, when neutron stars or black holes collide.

...

We've been able to learn a tremendous amount about the universe from electromagnetic waves or light. We can see things far away in space using telescopes and detect things we can't see using invisible light ranging from radio waves to X-rays.

But there are amazing phenomena we can't normally detect because they don't give off light, such as two black holes colliding, says Luis Lehner, a researcher who studies such systems at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ont.

"We're about to turn on a new detector to look at the heavens," he adds. "We have no idea what we might get to see."

Lehner says that detecting gravitational waves would also help us tell if Einstein's general theory of relativity is really correct. Without being able to detect gravitational waves, there's no way to test the theory's predictions for most extreme cases of gravity.

Another big advantage of gravitational waves is they aren't blocked or scattered by objects the way light is. That makes them "pristine or exquisite carriers of information" about the event that produced them, Lehner says.

So this should be really cool if we can actually detect these. It's always awesome when we find whole new ways of observing the universe.
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Offline RavynousHunter

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Re: Let's detect gravitational waves!
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2015, 10:08:58 pm »
Science is fucking amazing.  That is all.
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Offline Ironchew

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Re: Let's detect gravitational waves!
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2015, 10:27:48 pm »
It's worth noting that this is more of a proof-of-concept probe for testing out instrumentation. If all goes well the ESA will launch the actual observatory in 2034.
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Online dpareja

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Re: Let's detect gravitational waves!
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2015, 11:45:30 pm »
It's worth noting that this is more of a proof-of-concept probe for testing out instrumentation. If all goes well the ESA will launch the actual observatory in 2034.

It's still really cool that we've gotten to the point where we might actually be able to do this, though.
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Offline TheL

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Re: Let's detect gravitational waves!
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2015, 06:04:42 pm »
They had me at "ripples in space-time." <3
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Online dpareja

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Re: Let's detect gravitational waves!
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2016, 04:39:07 pm »
Necro, but related:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/ligo-gravitational-wave-cita-1.3444454

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The first gravitational waves ever detected have already revealed things no one has seen before, including a new type of black hole and more.

The discovery, announced by scientists from the international LIGO scientific collaboration Thursday, makes it possible to observe exotic events in the universe that were previously undetectable. It also confirms the validity of Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity, which first predicted the existence of gravitational waves 100 years ago.

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It's the first time merging black holes have ever been observed by science.

"It's the discovery of a new type of black hole," added Pfeiffer.

Binary stars — pairs of stars that revolve around each other — are very common in the universe and easily observed by astronomers. Because many stars end their lives in a supernova explosion that gives rise to a black hole, scientists had predicted that binary black holes should also exist.

But such binary black holes couldn't be observed because they don't give off light.

What they do give off is gravitational waves — ripples in space-time that slightly alter the path of light.

Binary black holes, more confirmation of general relativity... this is why science is worth funding.
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Offline Ultimate Paragon

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Re: Let's detect gravitational waves!
« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2016, 06:05:26 pm »
Some developments are worth a necro.

Offline TheL

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Re: Let's detect gravitational waves!
« Reply #7 on: February 19, 2016, 05:45:52 pm »
Indeed.  Also, I misread "worth funding" as "worth fucking."  But frankly, if Science were a person, I'd fuck it no questions asked.  Science is AWESOME.
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Offline Askold

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Re: Let's detect gravitational waves!
« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2016, 12:39:28 am »
Indeed.  Also, I misread "worth funding" as "worth fucking."  But frankly, if Science were a person, I'd fuck it no questions asked.  Science is AWESOME.
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