gravitational waves.jpg
Photograph: Photo by NASA Blueshift, used under CC BY

US researchers say they have detected gravitational waves, which physicist Albert Einstein first described 100 years ago as "ripples in the fabric of space-time."

Scientists from Caltech and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) made the announcement in Washington and other locations around the world. There were immediate suggestions that the discovery could well win them the Nobel Prize in Physics.

The signal detected with LIGO, an observatory with sites on both sides of the United States, was very clear and there was no room for doubt that it was direct evidence of the waves, said Bruce Allen, who is acting director at Germany's Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics.

He said two scientists with his group in the northern German city of Hanover were the first to notice the effect.

The announcement may confirm Albert Einstein's last unproven theory, dating from 1916.

According to Einstein's theory, gravitational waves move at the speed of light in a vacuum and bend space. Each accelerated body, therefore, sends gravitational waves, which increase in strength the greater the mass and the faster it moves.

An earlier news release had said the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) had been used in the research. It is a system of two identical detectors located in Louisiana and Washington states and was built to detect tiny vibrations from passing gravitational waves.

Latest news

Trump administration reverses transgender bathroom protections

The Trump administration on Wednesday withdrew Obama-era guidance about the use of school and university bathrooms by transgender students, local media reported.

Several Dakota Access Pipeline protesters arrested as deadline passes

Several people at a camp protesting against a controversial oil pipeline in the US state of North Dakota were arrested Wednesday after a deadline to vacate the land passed, local media reported.

Germany deports 18 rejected asylum seekers to Afghanistan

A Kabul-bound plane with 18 Afghan migrants on board took off from Munich Airport late Wednesday, its passengers becoming the third group of rejected asylum seekers to be deported by German authorities back to Afghanistan.

New Romanian justice minister named after anti-corruption protests

Romanian Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu has named a former judge to be the country's next justice minister, after the previous office holder resigned under pressure from mass anti-corruption protests.

Le Pen's chief of staff indicted in European Parliament jobs probe

The chief of staff of Marine Le Pen, the far-right candidate for president in upcoming French elections, was indicted Wednesday over allegations of irregular reimbursements from the European Parliament, a judicial source told dpa.

Montenegrin police extradites Miodrag Jovic to Croatia

Montenegrin police reported on Wednesday that they extradited to Croatia Miodrag Jovic (48) from Glina, after whom Interpol Zagreb issued an arrest warrant.

Croatian minister attends CoMoCoSEE conference in Albania

Culture Minister Nina Obuljen Korzinek participated in a third conference of the Council of Ministers of Culture of South-Eastern Europe (CoMoCoSEE) that took place in Tirana on February 21-22.

New Somali president asks al-Shabaab to surrender to 'help' country

Somalia's newly elected President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo asked Islamist terrorist group al-Shabaab to surrender in order "to help rebuild" the conflict-ridden East African nation.

Serbia's EU negotiator says minority rights neglected

The head of the Serbia's European Union accession negotiation team, Tanja Miscevic, said in Novi Sad on Wednesday that minority rights had been neglected for many years and added that positive results in that regard cannot be achieved over night, the Beta news agency has reported. 

Scientists: Nearby star's 7 rocky planets are "best bet" for life

New analysis of telescope data shows a dwarf star just 40 light years from Earth has at least seven apparently rocky planets with potential to harbour water, an international team of scientists announced Wednesday.

Croatian PM receives EIB Vice-President

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic met on Wednesday with European Investment Bank (EIB) Vice-President Dario Scannapieco for talks on the bank's contribution to a new investment cycle in Croatia and its support to the Croatian government to implement key projects, a press release from the government's office said.

Bomb explodes outside police officer's home in Northern Ireland

A bomb exploded outside a police officer's home in Northern Ireland on Wednesday but there were no immediate reports of casualties.