The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) has made a third detection of gravitational waves, ripples in space and time, demonstrating that a new window in astronomy has been firmly opened.
As was the case with the first two detections, the waves were generated when two black holes merged to form a larger black hole. In the latest merger, the final black hole was some 50 times the mass of our Sun. The recent detection, called GW170104, is the farthest yet, with the black holes located about three billion light-years away.
Einstein's theory of general relativity predicts that colliding black holes and neutron stars generate ‘gravitational waves’ that cause ripples in the fabric of space-time. After such an event, space-time does not return to its original state, instead it stays permanently warped. The astonishing prediction of Monash University researchers (and OzGrav investigators) Eric Thrane and Paul Lasky, along with student Lucy McNeill is that this warping could be detected using the advanced LIGO detector - even when the signal that caused the warping was not observed.
More details in the Press Release, New Scientist article, and the full publication.
OzGrav researchers describe how Einstein’s ‘spooky’ entanglement could help detect gravitational waves
OzGrav researcher David Blair (UWA) writes in The Conversation about a paper in Nature magazine co-authored by fellow OzGrav researcher Chunnong Zhao (UWA). Zhao and colleagues have created an exciting new design that makes use of quantum entanglement to make more sensitive gravitational wave detectors.
Congratulations to OzGrav Program Leader Prof Susan Scott (ANU) who was selected to participate in the Homeward Board program, a groundbreaking leadership, strategic and science initiative for women, set against the backdrop of Antarctica. The initiative, turned global movement, aims to heighten the influence and impact of women with a science background in order to influence policy and decision making as it shapes our planet, within 10 years.
Prof Scott will undertake a year-long program to develop leadership and strategic capabilities, including an Antarctic expedition in February 2018. We will be following her journey over the next year here at ozgrav.org! Listen to Susan Scott speak about the program and how she is preparing for the journey with this 2CC radio podcast.
OzGrav joined Dr Karl and friends at Fed Square Melbourne for Stargazing Live! The OzGrav booth had long queues of people waiting to experience the universe through our Virtual Reality headsets. We thrilled many guests with a flight to the beginning of the Milky Way's evolution, a binary pulsar, the Parkes Observatory and finally a coalescing neutron star binary with associated gravitational waves. Thanks to OzGrav staff from Melbourne, Monash and Swinburne, who helped staff the booth and ensure that OzGrav's first outreach event was a great success!
OzGrav investigator Prof David Coward (UWA) writes in The Conversation about mysterious gamma ray bursts, neutrons stars and gravitational waves.
World Science Festival Brisbane: A panel of legends discusses the NEW ERA OF GRAVITATIONAL WAVE ASTRONOMY
As part of the World Science Festival Brisbane, OzGrav Chief Investigator Prof Professor David Blair (UWA) joins a star-studded panel including Brain Greene, Brian Schmidt, France Cordova and Barry Barish, to discuss the new era of gravitational wave astronomy. 10AM 25th March 2017. More information here.
On the one-year anniversary of the announcement of the first gravitational wave detection, OzGrav Associate Investigator Prof Alistair Graham writes about gravity and black holes in The Conversation.
Prof David Blair and co-authors make the case for teaching general relativity in schools, writing "Education researchers have overwhelming evidence that children are motivated and excited to learn Einsteinian physics, and equally that they are turned off by a stale and obsolete curriculum".