Gravitational waves have been detected for the first time ever — this discovery is expected to shake the world of science, specially astronomy. The findings will be published in the journal Physical Review Letters.
The discovery was made by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) based in the US. The concept of gravitational waves was introduced by Einstein who included it in his theory of relativity. As purported by Einstein, the notion implies that gravity bends space-time, an effect which increases with the size of the object such that the movement of massive objects (like black holes) would create an oscillation in space-time in the form of gravitational waves. The latter have been compared with waves forming when a ship moves.
The observation of gravitational waves was made last year on September 14. They are thought to have arisen from two merging black holes; they can only be generated by powerful events. The two objects have merged 1.3 billion years ago. They had comparable masses: one weighed around 36 times more than the sun while the other was around 29 times the mass of our star.
The merging black holes gave off power equivalent to 50 times that of all stars in the visible universe. The energy released by the waves (in only 20 milliseconds) is thought to have been enough to destroy the mass of three suns.
Another finding is that gravitational waves move at light speed.
The aim of LIGO is to use these observations to delve deeper into what our universe holds of wonders. Already, scientists are marvelling at the discovery, convinced that it promises a new era for astronomy.