Visualization of the binary black hole coalescence that is believed to have produced the gravitational waves observed by LIGO. Video: Matt Kinsey, Karan Jani, and Michael Clark
For the first time, scientists have observed ripples in the fabric of space-time called gravitational waves, arriving at the earth from a cataclysmic event in the distant universe. Georgia Tech scientists collaborated on the discovery, which confirms a major prediction of Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity and opens an unprecedented new window onto the cosmos.
Gravitational waves carry information about their dramatic origins and about the nature of gravity that cannot otherwise be obtained. Physicists have concluded that the detected gravitational waves were produced during the merger of two black holes to produce a single, more massive spinning black hole.
The gravitational waves were detected on September 14, 2015, by both of the twin Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors, located in Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington. The LIGO observatories are funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and were conceived and built, and are operated, by Caltech and MIT. The discovery is reported in the journal Physical Review Letters.
Twelve Georgia Tech faculty members, postdoctoral researchers, and students are currently involved in the LIGO Scientific Collaboration. The team is led by School of Physics Associate Professor Laura Cadonati, who also chairs the LIGO Data Analysis Council.
— Jason Maderer