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Gravitational Wave Astronomy-A New Way of Looking at the Universe

Gravitational Wave Astronomy-A New Way of Looking at the Universe

Aug 15, 2013

We can see light, whether it be from the fluorescent light buzzing overhead in our office or whether its the mid morning sun beating down on our backs as we take a stroll on the beach.  We can hear all sounds audible to the human ear and even have special instruments to detect the ones that are not in that range.  We feel heat, from a newly warmed up cup of tea in the microwave to the car door handle that just got too hot in the sun.  These are things that are in the Electro Magnetic Spectrum, or EM Spectrum, which is our understanding of radiation from energy that travels and spreads out as it moves.

A new wave (pun intended) of exploration has commenced that will make us able to sense two black holes colliding, a super nova exploding, and all sorts of other extraordinary astronomical events.  This new way of measuring the universe is called Gravitational Wave Astronomy (GWA), a new science founded on Einstein’s principles of relativity.

Qgits team members, Candice Nunez and Andrea Kuipers recently attended a lecture at Chapman University given by GWA physicist Dr. Joshua Smith who describes gravitational waves as ripples in space time that travel at the speed of light.  GWs are generated by co-orbiting objects whose movements cause ripples in gravitational force, which can then be detected using the proper instrument such as the LIGO, a host of new observatories built specifically for detecting GWs.  LIGO stands for Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory and of which there are now two, one in Washington and one in Louisiana with two European cousin observatories in Italy called Virgo and one undergoing construction in Germany.

Many gravitational wave astronomers believe that this field is going to have a huge impact on the way that we explore our universe in the future.  They believe that by using both ground and space based detectors, that this will be on par with radio, gamma-ray, optical, infrared, and x ray astronomers in exploring our cosmos.

To learn more about GWA and LIGO and the future of astronomy, check out the following links:
Einstein Online

The Center For Gravitational Wave Astronomy


California State University Fullerton Center For Gravitational Wave Physics and Astronomy




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