Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO)
Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) is a facility that detects the cosmic gravitational waves. It is an observatory mainly for astrophysics. It is also the world’s sixth longest building consisting of multiple departments and facilities.
In 2008, the Advanced LIGO Project was launched to improve the detectors. The project is still getting support from the NSF (National Science Foundation). Moreover, LIGO has been the largest funded project by NSF.
Who Is First To Introduce Gravitational Waves?
Great question. The gravitational waves were first predicted by Albert Einstein. In 1916, he made the general theory of relativity. Unfortunately, the technology required for the detection was not made yet. Scientists at the observatory approved Einstein’s prediction. However, they did not go along with all of his predictions. Though, they have approved the general theory of relativity already.
Three billion years ago, only single-celled organisms existed on Earth while two black holes collided. The two black holes created a larger hole in the collision. During that process, the collision made a huge wave rolling at a speed of light in the fabric of space-time. On 4th January, the wave finally reached the Earth. It got detected by the super-sensitive devices at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO).
For the third time in history, the scientists noticed gravitational waves. Further detections of gravitational waves can lead to a better understanding of gravity and how it works.
LIGO has discovered a lot of things. Let’s have a look at what they’ve discovered by hearing and seeing the gravitational waves.
We’ve known about black holes for so many years. We didn’t ever look at a black hole directly before LIGO existed. Scientists doubted that something really heavy existed somewhere in the galaxy and it was small. Black holes do not let light get out of them so the scientists couldn’t understand what they were. However, after all the doubts, LIGO proved that black holes exist. Furthermore, they proved that black holes could orbit around each other or even merge into a large black single hole. That’s how our understanding of black holes expanded.
LIGO helped us get to know about gamma-ray bursts. There was a time when two neutron stars actually touched each other and the thing they discharge was gamma radiation. After a few seconds of gravitational wave event, NASA’s space telescope was able to detect the jet of gamma radiation. The gravitational waves also passed over LIGO’s instruments.
Scientists have noticed gamma-ray bursts similar to this throughout the previous decade. They thought that the gamma rays might be coming from the neutron stars. However, not a single scientist was able to prove it. But as time passed and technology enhanced, scientists were able to detect the rays and prove it. When the observation was done, it was also said that it wasn’t the first time scientists saw two neutron stars merge. Scientists have been looking over gamma rays before. They have also been observing neutron star mergers, yet they couldn’t make sure what those were. Now, because of LIGO’s advanced technology, we know about gamma-ray bursts.
LIGO made us learn regarding heavy elements. How exactly are heavy elements made? How did helium or hydrogen form? It was because of a big bang. We could never prove how did the heaviest elements form. But in a gravitational wave detection, that happened recently, telescopes spotted signatures of some elements such as platinum and gold. They were forming because of the two neutron stars colliding. According to LIGO researchers, they collided and made gold nearly 10 times the size of Earth. Events like this might be the reason for almost all the heavy elements in our universe.
LIGO’s Latest Discovery
Scientists just observed a detection of two black holes colliding with each other. Scientists have noticed this for the 5th time in the entire history. They observed tiny vibrations, as they wrap a fabric of the spacetime.
This gravitational wave detection wasn’t like the other detections that were full of news conferences showing scientists blinking at the journalists due to bright lights.
The pair LIGO noticed this time was the lightest they’ve ever seen yet. There was a lack of some fanfare on the detection. It is going to experience a shift, as researchers will now try to gain data from the other black hole collisions. This will let the scientists analyze the data and be able to answer the questions people have. There are a few things they need to know so they can answer almost all of the questions asked of them.
Today, LIGO has made so many discoveries. Now, the world can gain more knowledge about the universe they live in. Hopefully, one thing will lead to another, and the LIGO researchers will be able to know more about black holes.