Gravitational Waves Detected for the First Time Finally Vindicating Einstein’s Theory

Patti MayonnaiseFebruary 12, 2016584 Views
Photo Credit: Space.com Photo Credit: Space.com

Thanks to the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), U.S. scientists have detected gravitational waves for the first time in history. This discovery marks the most important astrophysical observations since the Cosmic Microwave Background was found. David Reitze, the Executive Director of the LIGO Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology announced at a press conference, “We have detected gravitational waves. We did it!”
Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity has finally been vindicated. His theory stated that gravity bends space-time and the more massive an object is, the more significant the subsequent effect. As massive objects move, it creates an oscillation in space-time known as gravitational waves. These waves are similar to waves forming in front of a ship.

 

Image via Laserfest.org

Image via Laserfest.org

 

Observed back in September of last year, the gravitational waves were produced by a pair of merging black holes. The merging of black holes is one of the very few known events that produce enough power to create such waves. Measuring about 95 miles across each, the pair of objects is believed to have merged an incredible 1.3 billion years ago.
With their similar masses, one weighed in at approximately 36 times the mass of our Sun and the other about 29. Statistically, the significance of this discovery is about 5.1 sigmas. This basically means that there’s a mere 1 chance in 6 million that the result is a fluke. The power released by the combination was equal to 50 times the power of all the stars in the universe. Those 20 milliseconds saw an energy equivalent to the annihilation of three Suns.
Professor Bob Bingham of the Science and Technology Facilities Council at Harwell Campus in the U.K. says, “Detecting and measuring gravitational waves is the holy grail of Einstein’s theory of General Relativity. This discovery leads the way to look back in time at the creation of the universe, with significant repercussions for ongoing astronomical research.”

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