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  • News

    Rumors swirl that LIGO snagged gravitational waves from a neutron star collision

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    Speculation is running rampant about potential new discoveries of gravitational waves, just as the latest search wound down August 25.

    Publicly available logs from astronomical observatories indicate that several telescopes have been zeroing in on one particular region of the sky, potentially in response to a detection of ripples in spacetime by the Advanced Laser...

    08/25/2017 - 15:14 Astronomy, Physics
  • News in Brief

    Swift kick from a supernova could knock a black hole askew

    Gravitational waves are providing new hints about how black holes get their kicks.

    The Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory’s detection of spacetime ripples from two merging black holes on December 26, 2015, indicated that one black hole was spinning like a tilted top as it orbited with its companion (SN: 7/9/16, p. 8). That off-kilter spin could mean that the...

    06/09/2017 - 14:37 Physics
  • News

    LIGO snags another set of gravitational waves

    For a third time, scientists have detected the infinitesimal reverberations of spacetime: gravitational waves.

    Two black holes stirred up the spacetime wiggles, orbiting one another and spiraling inward until they fused into one jumbo black hole with a mass about 49 times that of the sun. Ripples from that union, which took place about 3 billion light-years from Earth, zoomed across the...

    06/01/2017 - 11:00 Physics, Astronomy
  • Feature

    Year in review: Gravitational waves offer new cosmic views

    The secrets gleaned from the universe’s most mysterious giants are incongruously subtle when witnessed at Earth: Detectors budge by a tiny fraction of a proton’s breadth, outputting a feeble, birdlike chirp.

    For centuries, astronomers have peered out into the universe almost exclusively by observing its light. But 2016’s announcement of the first detection of gravitational waves,...

    12/14/2016 - 07:41 Physics, Astronomy
  • News

    LIGO’s black holes may be dark matter

    The black holes that produced the first detected gravitational waves may have exotic origins in the early universe.

    When the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, LIGO, glimpsed gravitational waves from two merging black holes, scientists were surprised at how large the black holes were — about 30 times the mass of the sun (SN: 3/5/16, p. 6). Inspired by this...

    08/07/2016 - 07:00 Physics
  • News

    More events needed to pin down gravitational waves backstory

    SAN DIEGO — While astrophysicists celebrate the second detection of ripples in spacetime (SN Online: 6/15/16), they are also looking ahead to figuring out what led to these cosmic quakes. Black holes colliding in remote galaxies sent the gravitational waves our way. But how these duos ended up in an ill-fated embrace in the first place is unknown.

    With only two clear detections from the...

    06/19/2016 - 07:00 Physics, Astronomy
  • News

    Second gravitational wave signal detected

    For the second time, scientists have glimpsed elusive ripples that vibrate the fabric of space. A new observation of gravitational waves, announced by scientists with the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, LIGO, follows their first detection, reported earlier this year (SN: 3/5/16, p. 6). The second detection further opens a new window through which to observe the...

    06/15/2016 - 13:15 Physics, Astronomy
  • News

    How to make gravitational waves ‘sing’

    SALT LAKE CITY — When black holes collide, astronomers expect to record a gravitational wave “chirp.” But rapidly spinning black holes, like the one featured in the 2014 film Interstellar, might prefer singing to chirping.

    According to the calculations of Caltech physicist Kip Thorne, who served as scientific consultant for Interstellar, the movie’s black hole, known as Gargantua, must...

    04/20/2016 - 09:30 Cosmology
  • News

    Faint gravitational waves could soon be on LIGO’s radar

    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...

    04/01/2016 - 11:15 Physics, Astronomy
  • Say What?

    Black hole smashup generated yottawatts of power

    Yottawatt \YOT-ah-wat\ n.:  1 million billion billion watts

    That’s a lotta watts. And a lot more — 3.6 x 1049 watts,  or 36 septillion yottawatts — blasted out of the black hole collision that the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory detected in September. Rather than a flash of light, the power came out as ripples in spacetime. As the black holes merged, three suns’...

    03/10/2016 - 10:00 Astronomy, Physics