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  • 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
  • News

    Black hole heavyweights triggered gravity wave event

    The recent detection of gravitational waves is a stunning confirmation of Albert Einstein’s theories and the start of a new way of observing the universe. And at the center of it all is a celebrity couple: the first known pairing of black holes and the most massive ones found outside of the cores of galaxies.

    On September 14, the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave...

    02/17/2016 - 12:34 Astronomy, Physics
  • Context

    Gravity waves exemplify the power of intelligent equations

    It isn’t often that physics produces news that diverts the mainstream media from politics, crime and sports. But, now, in the space of four years’ time, physicists have twice elevated the intellectual content of Google News listings: with the discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012, and now the detection of the spacetime vibrations known as gravitational waves.

    Finding the Higgs shored up...

    02/16/2016 - 15:56 Physics, History of Science
  • Context

    ‘Gravity waves’ is an OK way to refer to gravitational radiation

    It’s OK to call them “gravity waves.”

    Purists insist that the spacetime ripples just discovered by the Advanced LIGO observatories should be called “gravitational” waves. Which in itself is just a shorthand way of saying radiation of gravitational energy via oscillations in the fabric of spacetime. Further shortening that to “gravity wave” is considered by some to be scientifically...

    02/11/2016 - 15:54 Physics, Astronomy
  • Essay

    The long road to detecting gravity waves

    The January e-mail from Syracuse University physicist Peter Saulson caught me off guard. It probably shouldn’t have, since I had been anticipating the news for 16 years, ever since I wrote Einstein’s Unfinished Symphony. The book chronicled the astrophysical community’s most cutting-edge start-up: gravity wave astronomy.

    Saulson’s message meant that Einstein’s symphony is no longer “...

    02/11/2016 - 10:40 Physics, Astronomy
  • Feature

    Gravitational waves explained

    A century after Albert Einstein rewrote our understanding of space and time, physicists have confirmed one of the most elusive predictions of his general theory of relativity. In another galaxy, a billion or so light-years away, two black holes collided, shaking the fabric of spacetime. Here on Earth, two giant detectors on opposite sides of the United States quivered as gravitational waves...

    02/11/2016 - 10:30 Physics, Astronomy
  • News

    Gravity waves from black holes verify Einstein’s prediction

    WASHINGTON — Tremors in the cosmic fabric of space and time have finally been detected, opening a new avenue for exploring the universe.

    The historic discovery of those tremors, known as gravitational waves, comes almost exactly a century after Albert Einstein first posited their existence. Researchers with the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, or Advanced...

    02/11/2016 - 10:30 Physics, Astronomy
  • Science Ticker

    As first run of gravitational wave search winds down, rumors abound

    On January 12, scientists began a gradual shutdown of the Advanced LIGO experiment, marking the end of a four-month search for gravitational waves, ripples of energy that course through the cosmic fabric of space and time. Now the question is whether persistent rumors that the experiment has detected the long-sought waves are accurate. A discovery would confirm one of general relativity’s most...

    01/14/2016 - 12:39 Astronomy