Scientists home in on source of gravitational waves

Discovery could be step towards 'hearing' the Big Bang

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Scientists home in on source of gravitational waves

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Scientists have been able to pinpoint a source of gravitational waves, often described as ripples in space and time, using three separate observatories for the first time.

The three detectors, two in the US and one near Pisa in Italy, allowed researchers to triangulate the location of a collision between two black holes. The event which took place 1.8 billion years ago created another black hole with a mass 53 times that of the Sun.

The collaboration between the three observatories, a first, is important because it paves the way for allowing astronomers to view using conventional telescopes the events that cause gravitational waves as they are being created.

It also allows them to test aspects of Einstein’s theory of General Relativity.

As far as we can tell, Einstein is still right,” noted B. S. Sathyaprakash, a professor of astrophysics at Penn State university.

As the technology becomes more and more refined, science moves closer to the tantalising possibility of being able to analyse the gravitational waves that were created by the events which formed the universe as we know it.

The latest findings, which resulted from a collaboration of scientists from 21 countries, will be published in the journal Physics Review Letters.

(Main image shows Virgo detector in Italy)