CSUF scientists receive Nobel Prize for gravitational waves research

However, this time it's different and grand.

The light-based detections that followed showed that the collision of the neutron stars released newly synthesized heavy elements into the surrounding universe. As these neutron stars spiralled towards each other, they emitted gravitational waves that were detectable on Earth for about 100 seconds; when they collided, a flash of light in the form of gamma rays was emitted and seen on Earth about two seconds after the gravitational waves.

Bala Iyer (International Centre for Theoretical Sciences, Bengaluru): He computed the gravitational wave forms that could come from mergers of black holes and neutron stars, and these computations formed the basis of the templates for the LIGO and European detectors.

The collision and merging of the two neutron stars was observed (by Ligo in Hanford, Washington in the U.S., and in Livingston, Louisiana in the United States of America, and by Virgo, in Cascina, Italy) on 14 August 2017. They narrowed it down to a rather small patch of the southern sky.

Over the next few days and weeks astronomers watched agog as the embers from the explosion glowed brightly and faded, beautifully matching the pattern expected for a so-called "kilonova".

LIGO scientists held their first press conference in February 2016 to announce the first detection of a gravitational wave.

"The more we learn about science, the more we can apply those technologies to our everyday lives", Brown said. Since then, detecting gravitational waves from colliding black holes has started to feel like familiar territory, with four further such events detected. "As we continue to examine the signal, this wealth of data will likely allow us to pursue new and more stringent gravitational tests, which could put Einstein's theory of general relativity in question". Gravitational waves is one of the cleanest way to compute the number and preliminary computation from LIGO data yields a value of 70 kilometres per second per megaparsec.

While the initial observations by LIGO were exciting, astronomers were confident even more monumental revelations would materialize once astronomers paired the interferometers with other astronomical instruments.

"There are rare occasions when a scientist has the chance to witness a new era at its beginning", one of the astronomers, Elena Pian, said. Neutron stars are very small in size compared to black holes and the waves that emanated from the merger were easier to observe for a longer period of time.

NASA's Fermi telescope also received a signal of an intense explosion of high-energy light, gamma ray burst, coming from deep space. The observations have given astronomers an unprecedented opportunity to probe a collision of two neutron stars. "Virgo in a way missed it, because it happened to be in a narrow part of the sky where Virgo couldn't quite catch it", said Kalogera.

This energy was picked up by the three advanced gravitational wave laser interferometers, located thousands of kilometres away from each other when the passage of the gravitational wave provides an oscillation of the lengths of their two arms, at the same frequency of the incoming gravitational wave.

Swope observatory (ground-based) in Chile first saw it and snapped its images in visible lights.

Many hands make light work: NASA's Fermi satellite was instrumental in the discovery.

Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network was also one of the first observatories that noticed this celestial event.

In fact, scientists said Monday it has given birth to a whole new field of study called multi-messenger astronomy. "There's nothing like the feeling knowing you're one of the first people in the world to see a new phenomenon". "Gravitational Wave detection of a binary neutron star merger, together with confirmation and identifying the location of the optical counterpart by conventional telescopes completes the integration of gravitational waves into astronomy", said Dr. Souradeep. Two neutron stars, collapsed cores of stars so dense that a teaspoon of their matter would weigh 1 billion tons, danced ever faster and closer together until they collided.

But the truly remarkable discovery, confirming what astrophysicists had predicted years back, is that such violent impacts, which eject something close to 2 percent of the stars' mass at high speeds, produce loads of chemical elements heavier than iron, including gold, platinum, and heavy radioactive atoms.

  • Joey Payne