In September 2017, scientists part of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration and the Virgo Scientific Collaboration announced that they were able to observe the collision of two black holes in the universe.
The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) is a large-scale physics experiment and observatory to detect cosmic gravitational waves and to develop gravitational-wave observations as an astronomical tool. It is the largest science project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). There are two detectors that are part of the LIGO project and they are in Washington and Louisiana in the United States.
The Virgo interferometer is designed to detect gravitational waves. The instrument is located near Pisa in Italy. The Virgo collaboration consists of more than 280 physicists and engineers belonging to 20 different European research groups. These three detectors are L shaped. Each one of their legs is nearly 2 miles long.
In 2016, the LIGO Scientific Collaboration announced the first detection of gravitational waves. This proved an important prediction made by Albert Einstein with regards to general relativity in 1915.
In October 2017, it was announced that scientists Rainer Weiss, Kip Thorne and Barry were awarded the Nobel prize in physics “for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves.”
Don Lincoln, a senior physicist at Fermilab, has written for CNN noting that “gravitational waves occur when the fabric of space and time are distorted by the movement of large masses.”
In September 2017, scientists part of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration and the Virgo Scientific Collaboration announced that they detected another set of gravitational waves. This would mark the fourth time this phenomenon has been measured since the 2016. The detected gravitational wave was observed on August 14, 2017 and was produced by a pair of merging black holes with 31 and 25 solar masses.
In layman terms, this means that we human beings have been able to observe a cosmic calamity that occurred light years away. By being able to observe the collision of black holes, they could measure the energy that was released by the collision of two black holes. Within seconds of the collision, energy equivalent to the mass of three stars the size of the Sun was released as gravitational waves. This was picked up by the facilities.
Our assessment is that these three detectors will play a pivotal role in our understanding of gravitational waves. In turn, scientists will further their understanding on black holes and the different kinds that exist. In addition, it will further our understanding on the fundamentals of the universe. It is still unclear what these detectors will reveal about the secrets of the universe but we believe that the information they will disseminate will be vital nonetheless.