Washington, June 29 (BNA): Scientists have observed for the first time the faint ripples caused by the motion of black holes gently stretching and squeezing everything in the universe.
They reported Wednesday that they were able to “hear” what are called low-frequency gravitational waves — changes in the fabric of the universe created by massive objects moving and colliding in space, the AP reports.
Einstein predicted that when really heavy objects move through spacetime — the fabric of our universe — they create ripples that propagate through that fabric. Scientists sometimes liken these ripples to the background music of the universe.
In 2015, scientists used an experiment called LIGO to detect gravitational waves for the first time and showed that Einstein was right.
But until now, these methods have only been able to capture waves at higher frequencies, explained Nanograph’s Chiara Mingarelli, a Yale astrophysicist.
Mingarelli said these quick “chirps” come from specific moments when relatively young black holes and dead stars collide with each other.
In the latest research, scientists have been looking for waves with much lower frequencies.
These slow ripples can take years or even decades to cycle up and down, and may come from some of the largest objects in our universe: supermassive black holes billions of times more massive than our sun.
Galaxies across the universe are constantly colliding and merging together. When this happens, scientists think the supermassive black holes at the centers of these galaxies also gather and get caught up in a dance before finally collapsing with each other, explained Zabolcs-Marca, an astrophysicist at Columbia University who was not involved in the research.
Black holes send out gravitational waves as they orbit these pairs, known as binaries.
There are no tools on Earth that can catch ripples from these giants. “We had to build a detector roughly the size of a galaxy,” said NANOGrav researcher Michael Lamm of the SETI Institute.
The results released this week included 15 years of data from NANOGrav, which uses telescopes across North America to search for waves. Other teams of gravitational wave hunters around the world have also published studies, including in Europe, India, China and Australia.
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