LIGO’s discovery of gravitational waves rocked the world of physics. But now, some scientists are questioning their methods. Here’s what you need to know.
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Gravitational Waves finally captured
“Gravitational waves spread at the speed of light, filling the universe, as Albert Einstein described in his general theory of relativity. They are always created when a mass accelerates, like when an ice-skater pirouettes or a pair of black holes rotate around each other. Einstein was convinced it would never be possible to measure them. The LIGO project’s achievement was using a pair of gigantic laser interferometers to measure a change thousands of times smaller than an atomic nucleus, as the gravitational wave passed the Earth.”
Was it all just noise? Independent analysis cast’s doubt on LIGO’s detection
“To identify a gravitational wave signal, LIGO relies on the combined signal from both detectors. A gravitational wave will travel through each site at a different time, since the signal travels at the speed of light, but the two sites are separated by thousands of kilometers. The signals that arrive should be correlated, but with a characteristic time-lag and an amplitude offset, since they're oriented differently in space (on the surface of the curved Earth) in three dimensions. However, there shouldn’t be any such correlation in the noise. At least, that's the idea.”
Gravitational Waves: Ripples in the fabric of space-time
“Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves in 1916 as part of the theory of general relativity.”