Einstein was right about gravitational waves, we now have measurements to prove it

The waves change the particles they encounter on their path & scientists have figured out in what ways.

Gravitational waves have always been a source of mystery for scientists, ever since they were predicted by Albert Einstein in 1916. The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory is the largest physics experiment and observatory detecting gravitational waves. This effort to develop an astronomical tool to observe gravitational-waves has created much buzz in the scientific community.

Recently, the group observed what they think were neutron stars colliding and a black hole consuming a neutron star. Researchers had theorised that these waves can have a lasting effect on particles. Now, almost 50 years later, scientists have the measurements to prove it.

Einstein was right about gravitational waves, we now have measurements to prove it

Aerial view of the Virgo gravitational wave detector near Pisa, Italy. Image credit: APS

When gravitational waves come in contact with any particles in their path, they alter these particles in some observable ways. For instance, the position, speed, acceleration and trajectory of particles affected by gravitational waves changes. They do not go back to their original state even once the waves pass, creating a persistent effect. This persistent gravitational wave, called gravitational wave memory effect, can be measured by scientists to understand, measure and predict where these waves are in space and how they work.

Éanna Flanagan of Cornell University, New York, and her colleagues have not just confirmed the theory, but also given a mathematical framework to study how gravitational waves affects matter. The study’s findings were recently published in Physical Review D.

The increased sensitivity of the LIGO arms can help detect these gravitational waves better and faster in the future. Armed with the symptoms, scientists will be able to detect the cause and effect when it happens next in the future.

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