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Gravitational wave detectors: the universe ripples, they listen
September 8, 2010 7:23 AM   Subscribe

Gravitational wave detectors: the universe ripples, they listen. These detectors (LIGO, GE600, TAMA300, AIGO) are listening for the gravitation waves: black holes spinning and colliding, or neutron stars inspiralling to their final fates in a black hole.

Listen to the sounds that LIGO should hear when detecting neutron stars (hint: listen for the sound at the end of some of these files) or the sounds of pulsars, black holes spinning, black holes colliding, and the sound of inspiralling black holes.

Want to help detect these gravitational waves? Then join the Einsten@Home Project; download a screen saver and your computer can use idle time to look for gravitational waves using data from a gravitational wave detector -if you find something, they will let you know. Apparently citizen scientists and their sidekick computers have already detected 1 new pulsar. Go team!

What does the future of gravitational wave detection look like? Hopes for the future include LISA, or 3 identical space ships/satellites, which will fly in a triangular constellation in space. LISA should be able to hear “the emission from massive black-hole binaries that form after galactic mergers; the song of compact stellar remnants as they slowly spiral to their final fate in the black holes at the centers of galaxies; the chorus of millions of compact binaries in our own Galaxy; and possibly the faint whispers of waves generated shortly after the Big Bang
posted by Wolfster (9 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Apparently citizen scientists and their sidekick computers have already detected 1 new pulsar."
On radio data, not gravitational wave data. Still, good work!
posted by edd at 7:34 AM on September 8, 2010


I think this one is actually my old '68 Vespa.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:00 AM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can't talk now, I have to lash everything down.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:29 AM on September 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


Gravitational wave detectors: the universe ripples, they listen.

Technically speaking, aren't they listening in order to prove the theory that predicts the Universe ripples? I find the difference fascinating because as I understand it to date they haven't actually detected any gravitational waves, merely inferred them from other data.

If they continue to not detect gravitational waves does the argument against gravity as a fundamental force get stronger? Does the argument of tweaking Newton's laws grow stronger?
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:21 AM on September 8, 2010


There are some pretty cool (soundless) animations on the LIGO page, too.
posted by not_on_display at 10:22 AM on September 8, 2010


as I understand it to date they haven't actually detected any gravitational waves, merely inferred them from other data.

That inference is actually very strong. The classic example is the double pulsar PSR B1913+16. In this system, two pulsars are orbiting around their common centre of mass - and we can observe that their orbital period is decreasing, which implies they are getting closer together, which implies they must be losing energy and angular momentum somehow. This can't be explained by classical Newtonian dynamics, but General Relativity predicts that such a system will lose energy and angular momentum via gravitational radiation, and at a rate that "agrees with that expected from the emission of gravitational radiation, according to general relativity, to within about 0.2 percent".


*If I remember correctly, out of the two
posted by Electric Dragon at 11:02 AM on September 8, 2010


Ignore the asterisk.
posted by Electric Dragon at 11:04 AM on September 8, 2010


Raise your hand if you also initially read that (with Dramatic Capitals) as "The Universe Nipples - they listen!"
posted by FatherDagon at 11:14 AM on September 8, 2010


Definitely check out Einstein @ Home. Your computer can be helping out while idle. Awesome live graphics (if you opt for that).
posted by intermod at 7:34 PM on September 8, 2010


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