February 14, 2017

"The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) is not only the most sensitive detector of ripples in spacetime..."

Science: It also happens to be the world's best producer of gravitational waves, a team of physicists now calculates. by Adrian Cho

'Although these waves are far too feeble to detect directly, the researchers say, the radiation in principle could be used to try to detect weird quantum mechanical effects among large objects.

'"When we optimize LIGO for detection, we also optimize it for emission" of gravitational waves, says Belinda Pang, a physicist at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, who presented the analysis here last week at a meeting of the American Physical Society.

'Gravitational waves literally stretch space itself. In 1915, Albert Einstein explained that gravity arises when massive objects such as Earth warp spacetime, bending the otherwise straight trajectories of free-falling objects. Einstein also predicted that certain swirling configurations of mass would radiate gravitational waves. The 1000 physicists working with LIGO have twice detected such waves emanating from a pair of massive black holes spiraling into each other.'

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