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Faint gravitational waves could soon be on LIGO’s radar

New analysis finds better prospects for spotting weak ripples from distant black hole mergers

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11:15am, April 1, 2016
Gravitational waves

RIPPLE ROUSER  Scientists may soon be able to tease out subtle signals from the gravitational waves produced by merging black holes too far away to detect directly.

A conspicuous “chirp” heralded the first detection of gravitational waves. But some future measurements could be more like hushed murmurs.

Scientists may soon be able to tease out a faint signal of gravitational waves from black hole collisions too distant to be detected directly, scientists with LIGO, the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, report in the April 1 Physical Review Letters. A detection could come in as few as three years — considerably faster than scientists had dreamed possible, the new analysis suggests.

When LIGO detected the stretching and squeezing of spacegenerated by a pair of merging black holes, scientists were wowed (SN: 03/05/16, p. 6). The signal stood out well above spurious

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