Hearing the Universe

One of the most groundbreaking theories in astronomy has just been proven with the announcement last week that gravitational waves have been detected. Einstein had predicted these waves in 1916 in his theory of general relativity, and they were only just found today using lasers, which Einstein also laid the foundation for one year later in 1917. These waves are ripples through space-time that actually bend matter as they pass by. The particular waves the LIGO scientists detected were originally emitted around 1.3 billion years ago when two black holes merged together. The amount of energy released in this merger was about 50 times more than the total output of all the stars in the universe put together, which gave it enough juice to reach us 1.3 billion light years away. Since these waves had minuscule energy by the time they reached us relative to other forms of waves that we know, how are they useful, and what do they even mean?

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These waves formed by these two black holes can tell us about unimaginable concepts that have yet to be theorized or even viewed as possible. They can help us understand black holes and whether or not they even exist, as their existence is not technically proven yet. Gravitational waves can also let us utilize high-energy interactions far away in the universe as a sort of lighthouse that we can use to examine the expansion of the universe and also test the theory of universality and whether the laws of physics are consistent throughout the universe. Most importantly for astronomers, however, is that they can now study objects in the distant, dark universe without the need for electromagnetic radiation. We can now “hear” the universe, so to say, as we don’t need to rely on sight anymore to study the cosmos. (Sources: DiscoveryNews).

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