saurabh bhushan


Gravitational Waves


Gravitational waves are 'ripples' in space-time caused by some of the most violent and energetic processes in the Universe. Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves in 1916 in his general theory of relativity. Einstein's mathematics showed that massive accelerating objects (such as neutron stars or black holes orbiting each other) would disrupt space-time in such a way that 'waves' of undulating space-time would propagate in all directions away from the source.

These cosmic ripples would travel at the speed of light, carrying with them information about their origins, as well as clues to the nature of gravity itself. In gravitational-wave astronomy, observations of gravitational waves are used to infer data about the sources of gravitational waves. Sources that can be studied this way include binary star systems composed of white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes; and events such as supernovae, and the formation of the early universe shortly after the Big Bang.

Sources Of Gravitational Waves

  • Binaries
  • Black hole binaries
  • Supernovae
  • Spinning neutron stars
  • Inflation

What Happens When GW Passes US

Gravitational waves are constantly passing Earth; however, even the strongest have a minuscule effect and their sources are generally at a great distance. For example, the waves given off by the cataclysmic final merger of GW150914 reached Earth after travelling over a billion light-years, as a ripple in spacetime that changed the length of a 4 km LIGO arm by a thousandth of the width of a proton, proportionally equivalent to changing the distance to the nearest star outside the Solar System by one hair's width.

This tiny effect from even extreme gravitational waves makes them observable on Earth only with the most sophisticated detectors. The effects of a passing gravitational wave, in an extremely exaggerated form, can be visualized by imagining a perfectly flat region of spacetime with a group of motionless test particles lying in a plane, e.g. the surface of a computer screen. As a gravitational wave passes through the particles along a line perpendicular to the plane of the particles, i.e. following the observer's line of vision into the screen, the particles will follow the distortion in spacetime, oscillating in a "cruciform" manner, as shown in the animations. The area enclosed by the test particles does not change and there is no motion along the direction of propagation.


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