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Why is the discovery of gravitational waves so interesting?

Why is the discovery of gravitational waves so interesting?

NANOGrav collaboration discovers ‘random gravitational-wave background’

Just a few days ago, on June 29, it was Nanograph projectone of the largest international collaborations in history, has revealed to the public a new discovery that, in the words of Nature, is set to “Shake all astrophysicsThis material progress included the work of thousands of scientists, distributed in dozens of centers around the world, and more than fifteen years of joint work in collecting data. The statement came during a live broadcast where it was announced that they had been found Evidence for a cosmic background of gravitational waves. The scientific article was published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, and from there, the media took off in the now traditional race to publicize the discovery through press releases and flash articles.

It’s not easy to communicate discoveries at Frontier Physics. Scientific developments happen at an astounding pace and certain fields, such as astrophysics, reach levels of complexity beyond the knowledge of the general public. For this reason, more and more frequently, days after a news item appears, the major scientific journals and websites also publish an article, more informative and simplistic, trying to explain what this new discovery consists of or what implications it offers. This is the State of Nature, first published in the journal News about gravitational waves And the next day, give a script stating the points and Explains why it is such an important advance. Similarly, Space.com also posted a Informational article.

In short, the news in the media is a quick race to publish any news before everyone else, fortunately, to deepen and clarify that news days later. In this “second news” patient readers often understand the true meaning of the discovery. And if we want to better understand the NANOGrav declaration, we have to go back in time nearly a century and go back to the typical phrase “Einstein was right“.

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After the theories of relativity, the Universe is usually understood as a kind of smooth slab, an elastic canvas that deforms the mass of things. Physicists, Einstein included, have wondered for decades what would happen to that great trampoline we call the fabric of space-time if very massive events occurred, such as the collision of two giant stars or if two massive black holes collided. They will merge. Space-time corresponds to these ripples, and Einstein predicted this The interaction of very massive bodies would cause gravitational waves, in the same way as if we were to throw a stone into a still pond. These gravitational waves, generated by the warping of the fabric of space-time, will move like waves, and with the right tools, we can detect them.

In 2016, a century after Einstein published his general theory of relativity, the experiment LIGO made the most anticipated announcement. That was on February 11th, at 4:30 p.m. David Ritzer, CEO of The LEGO Experience, was smiling Press room In a calm tone, he smiled the following words:Ladies and gentlemen, we have discovered gravitational waves..we succeeded1.3 billion years ago, a pair of massive black holes collided, merging into a single sun, and released an enormous amount of energy that wobbled through the fabric of space-time. LIGO’s laser interferometers are so sophisticated that they detect even the slightest movement on that flat cosmic plate. Their lasers act like buoys and were able to detect ripples in space-time produced by waves generated by “giant rocks of the mass of a black hole”…

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It was a special moment for physics. This announcement opened the doors to a new way of looking at (or rather listening to) the universe. Most of the knowledge we have about the universe we gained by analyzing the light from stars and galaxies…now, thanks to gravitational waves, We have another way to understand the nature of the great cosmic phenomena. Which brings us to today’s announcement from NANOGrav.

We’ve done it again…we’ve detected gravitational waves again. But two things matter: this timeThe different waves and the method used are also new and amazing.

In 2016, the discovery came from a certain event, where two black holes merged, releasing energy and emitting a large gravitational wave. In the announcement of NANOGrav, the authors speak of a “cosmic background of gravitational waves,” a buzz, even a symphony. Supermassive black holes, quasars shooting out energy, entire galaxies colliding with each other, causing the fabric of space and time to vibrate and create “The gravitational bustle that runs through the universe“.

How did they discover it? Here comes another genius of the NANOGrav project because, instead of using laser tools like LIGO, what they’ve done is Using data accumulated over 15 years of pulsars.

Artistic recreation of the pú star.  lsar |  a pot

Artist’s impression of a pulsar star | a pot

Pulsars are highly magnetized neutron stars that spin so fast and so precisely that physicists call them the “beacons of the universe.” These stars can turn themselves on hundreds of times per second., emitting such minute pulses of light that when they were discovered many thought they were signs of an extraterrestrial civilization. Thanks to their accuracy, these cosmic beacons can also be used.”world clocksIt is this quality that the NANOGrav physicists have taken advantage of to detect the small variations that correspond to gravitational-wave emission.

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“The NANOGrav team has created, in essence, galaxy scale detector that reveal the gravitational waves that pervade our universe.” explains the NSF directorSeethuraman Panchanathan. In the title of this article, he said physicists are excited, and this is no less: We are facing a remarkable advance in astrophysics, a discovery that brings us closer to a global understanding of the great physical phenomena of the universe.

More interesting articles and news about the universe on Yahoo:

Scientific references and more information:

Castelvecchi, David. «Giant gravitational waves: why scientists are so excited». Nature (2023) DOI: 10.1038/d41586-023-02203-6.

Robert ReidThe universe buzzes with gravitational waves. Here’s why scientists are so excited about this discoverySpace.com

Agazie, Gabriella, et al. «A 15-year NANOGrav data set: Evidence for the gravitational wave background». Astrophysical Journal Letters (2023), DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/acdac6.