What is Gravitational Waves?

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : May 27, 2022, 10:53

A Gravitational Wave is an invisible lightning-fast ripple in space. On October 16, 2015, the scientists observed Gravitational Waves, it was something like wrinkles in space. You will be amazed to know that almost a century ago, Einstein predicted that it was made by the collision of two neutron stars or planets.

About Gravitational Waves

Here are a few things that you should know about Gravitational Waves:

  • It travels at a breakneck speed of 186,000 miles per second
  • If anything comes their way, the Gravitational Waves squeeze and stretch them
  • If scientists can prove that these waves exist, it will transform the understanding of the universe altogether. The reason behind it is that scientists will be able to impact the measure of most violent events in a better way, such as the Big Bang, which has so far been pretty subtle to measure.

How do scientists know that Gravitational Waves exist?

In 2015, the scientists first discovered the Gravitational Waves, using a susceptible instrument called Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) to measure them.

It happened because two black holes collided with each other. This collision occurred around 1.3 billion years ago, but its ripples did not reach Earth until the first time in 2015.

Gravitational Waves - Einstein's Right about his Discovery

Detecting these waves for the first time is considered crucial since, before that, scientists were only focusing on waves of light, sound, etc. This gave them a fresh method to approach the workings of the universe.

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How are Gravitational Waves detected?

If these waves pass through Earth, they will squeeze and stretch the space. The instrument, LIGO, can easily detect the impacts. LIGO has two arms which are around 4 km long. As soon as the Gravitational Wave passes, it will cause the arm's length to change slightly.

The various tools that it uses are mirrors, lasers, and some highly sensitive devices for detecting these small changes.

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Can Gravitational Waves cause damage to Earth?

This is a pretty exciting question as most scientists were concerned about this. The answer to this question is that the ripples of Gravitational Waves in space have so much more energy than any cataclysmic event, but the good part is that the interactions are so weak that there are no or very few chances of them affecting Earth.

All in all, scientists’ Gravitational Waves are a new method that can help them in getting more information about the universe and the best part is that it has minimal chances of affecting Earth. So, if they can get more information on it, it will be pretty helpful for them.

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FAQs on Gravitational Waves

Q1. What does the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) project research? Do they only research the Gravitational Waves?

The team is responsible for understanding the origins of Gravitational Waves and they study the physical properties of light and space to better understand the phenomenon.

Q2. Are there any upgrades expected in the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) shortly?

With LIGO's first detection of Gravitational Waves in 2015, we have learnt that everything on this planet is distorted all the time. It implies even the humans are warped by an interceptable amount when the sources of Gravitational Waves are far off. Apart from these astounding theories, upgrades are expected in a couple of years. As of now, it is performing at just 1/3rd of its expected sensitivity.

Q3. When did Albert Einstein publish his final report on Gravitational Waves?

Albert Einstein published his final report on the Gravitational Waves on November 25, 2015, but it was not received well because of the lack of clear experimental evidence.

Q4. When did the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) first notice Gravitational Waves?

LIGO first observed the Gravitational Waves on September 14, 2015.