Physicists in the UK are ready to start construction of a major part of an advanced new experiment, designed to search for elusive gravitational waves. They are already part of two experiments: the UK/German GEO 600 project and the US LIGO experiment (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory), both in their commissioning phases. By bringing GEO 600 technology to LIGO, they and their German colleagues from the Albert Einstein Institute are now set to become full partners in Advanced LIGO, a more sensitive observatory that once fully operational should be able to detect a gravitational wave event a day.
Gravitational waves should be created when massive objects, such as black holes or neutron stars in astronomical binaries interact and spiral-in towards, and eventually collide with, each other emitting a strong burst of gravitational radiation or when a star, at the end of its long evolutionary phase, collapses due to its own gravity resulting in a supernova with the core forming a neutron star or a black hole. Rapidly rotating neutron stars or pulsars with tiny
deformities in their spherical shape, and newly formed neutron stars, are continuous emitters of the radiation. There should also be background "noise" made up from a population of such events and, possibly, phase transitions in the early Universe and the echoes of the Big Bang itself.
First predicted by Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, gravitational waves have never been observed, but indirect evidence of their existence has been obtained by measuring the effect of their emission by a binary pulsar system (two neutron stars orbiting each other). The observed effect was found to match predictions.
Julia Maddock | alfa
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