Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


LIGO confirms RIT's breakthrough prediction of gravitational waves


RIT's 2005 landmark research matches the actual waveform signals

Research conducted by Rochester Institute of Technology scientists was integral to the breakthrough detection of gravitational waves from binary black holes that was announced today by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) Scientific Collaboration.

RIT scientists produced one of the first computer simulations of gravitational waves from colliding black holes. The signals they predicted were confirmed by the LIGO Scientific Collaboration's first observation of gravitational waves.

Credit: Campanelli et al.

The collaboration's findings confirm the existence of gravitational waves predicted by Albert Einstein's 1915 general theory of relativity and introduce a revolutionary new way of understanding the universe through gravitational wave astronomy. Six Rochester Institute of Technology researchers are among the authors on the upcoming paper in Physical Review Letters.

The LIGO paper prominently cites 2005 landmark research on binary black hole mergers led by Manuela Campanelli, director of RIT's Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation. The signal detected by LIGO matches the numerical model of the waveform confirmed by RIT researchers and predicted in their 2005 breakthrough science, "Accurate Evolutions of Orbiting Black-Hole Binaries without Excision," originally published in Physical Review Letters, on March 22, 2006. The paper recently appeared in the American Physical Society's curated collection of seminal papers celebrating 100 years of Einstein's theory of general relativity.

Based on this milestone work from a decade ago, RIT researchers at the center, Carlos Lousto and James Healy, numerically modeled the merger of a pair of black holes and simulated gravitational waveforms. The actual wave patterns LIGO detected on Sept. 14, 2015, matched the simulations Lousto and Healy had created.

"The direct observation of a binary black hole merger by LIGO is an amazing confirmation of our theoretical calculations," said Campanelli, professor in RIT's School of Mathematical Sciences and an American Physical Society Fellow. "This is a historic moment in science."

The RIT team's breakthrough, known as the "moving puncture" approach, solved the interrelated equations for strong field gravity that comprise Einstein's theory of general relativity. Their method radically transformed the landscape of numerical relativity--a specialized field that solves Einstein's equations with sophisticated mathematics and supercomputers--and opened frontiers in gravitational wave astrophysics, Campanelli said.

RIT scientists used the moving puncture approach to make the first calculations of gravitational radiation from merging black holes with arbitrary masses and spins, and the discovery of large gravitational-radiation recoils from spinning supermassive black-hole mergers. The method also made possible their study of spin dynamics effects, such as spin-flips, precession and hang-up orbits, and extreme mass-ratio binaries.

"It is incredibly exciting to see the deep connections between theory and observation," said Lousto, a co-author on both the 2006 and LIGO breakthrough papers. "This is the Holy Grail of science. To confirm amazing predictions of general relativity is a dream come true. We have witnessed a historic event, the confirmation of the 100-year-old predictions of Einstein regarding gravitational waves and our 10-year-old computation of the merger of two black holes in a single event."

Collaborator Pedro Marronetti, program director of the division of gravitational physics at the National Science Foundation, noted that the simplicity and accuracy of their moving-puncture technique "opened up the field to a number of groups, large and small, all across the world."

RIT associate professor Yosef Zlochower, then a postdoctoral fellow and the fourth member of Campanelli's team, said, "We are witnessing the dawn of a new understanding of the universe," he said. "This has been decades in the making, and we are very proud to be part of this great effort."


For more information on the RIT team:

For information on CCRG: and

For information on RIT's Black Hole Lab:

Media Contact

Susan Gawlowicz


Susan Gawlowicz | EurekAlert!

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Novel light sources made of 2D materials
28.10.2016 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA
27.10.2016 | University of Oklahoma

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel light sources made of 2D materials

Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.

So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Steering a fusion plasma toward stability

28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Bioluminescent sensor causes brain cells to glow in the dark

28.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Activation of 2 genes linked to development of atherosclerosis

28.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>