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‘Listening’ to black holes form with gravity waves

Posted August 19, 2013
‘Listening' to black holes form with gravity waves

‘Listening’ to black holes form with gravity waves
Gravity waves are ripples in space generated by extreme cosmic events such as colliding stars, black holes, and supernova explosions, which carry vast amounts of energy at the speed of light. Credit: Werner Benger, NASAblueshift

New technology that breaks the quantum measurement barrier has been developed to detect the gravity waves first predicted by Einstein in 1916.

Professor David Blair was one of 800 physicists from around the world who announced a breakthrough in measurement science last month.

“Gravitational wave astronomy is going to be the new astronomy that’s likely to really revolutionise our understanding of the universe,” he says.

“It will allow us to listen to the big bang and to black holes forming throughout the universe.

“These are detectors that can allow humanity to explore the beginning of time and the end of time.”

According to current theory, time began with the big bang and ends in black holes.

Specialised equipment known as the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) uses laser beams to measure gravitational ripples of space and time.

The detector consists of an L-shaped vacuum system, four kilometres long, with mirrors at the ends.

Lasers directed at the mirrors are isolated from irrelevant vibrations by a vibration isolation system.

He says the addition of a new technique called ‘quantum squeezing’ at the world’s largest gravitational wave detector allowed researchers to eliminate a lot of the ‘noise’ caused by quantum fluctuations.

“The recent announcement is the first implementation in a multi-kilometre detector.”

“It proves that the quantum barrier [that] physicists thought would limit sensitivity can be overcome.”

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