Scientists Are Getting Closer To Detect Gravitational Waves From Space

Posted: Jun 9 2016, 1:11pm CDT | by , Updated: Jun 9 2016, 11:00pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News


Scientists are Getting Closer to Detect Gravitational Waves from Space
Credit: ESA–C.Carreau

LISA Pathfinder reports that it has successfully tested out a technology needed to pave the way for detecting gravitational waves in space.

Earlier this year, the news of LIGO’s direct detection of elusive gravitational waves has generated a lot of buzz. Now, European Space Agency has announced that a technology which will be an integral part of future gravitational waves observatory has passed a series of test with a great success. In fact, the mission team suggests that the technology has exceeded their most optimistic expectations.  

Gravitational waves are ripples in the space-time fabric caused by most violent and energetic processes in the universe like supernovae or collisions of black holes. The existence of gravitational waves was predicted by Albert Einstein exactly 100 years ago on the basis of his theory of general relativity. But detecting these ripples generated by the movements of massive objects in the cosmos is extremely difficult because it requires precise measurements and still conditions to identify signals from supermassive black holes collisions and other violent events that send ripples through the fabric of space-time. And it would be impossible to observe them on Earth since they can easily mix up with other movements and vibrations in the planet. That is why scientists want to detect gravitational waves directly from the space. 

European Space Agency has launched a small test spacecraft Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) Pathfinder into the space in late 2015 and its purpose was to work out how the detection of gravitational waves is possible in space. The two kilogram gold-platinum cube, which was carried by spacecraft, has reached an almost perfect state of stillness now. Currently, the cube is almost complexly free of any force other than the gravity. ESA scientists have also demonstrated how they were able to create the true free fall state that has never ever experienced by any human-made object.

Mission’s extraordinary success is a crucial step on the way to launching the LISA observatory and will open up new avenues of understanding the phenomenon of gravitational waves.

“In the LISA observatory mission planned for 2034, laser interferometers will measure the distances between test masses housed in spacecraft flying in a triangular configuration roughly a million kilometers on a side.” Authors wrote in American Physics Society (APS) blog

“The measured performance of the Pathfinder mission systems would allow gravitational wave observations close to the original plan for the LISA observatory.”

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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