A century long theory of the existence of gravitational waves which was hypothesized by Albert Einstein gained its practical existence in 2017. The Nobel prize in the field of physics was awarded to Reiner Weiss, Barry C. Barish and Kip S. Thorne for “ decisive contribution to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves.” This discovery was no doubt a major scientific breakthrough that would open new domains for study of space and unlock the secrets.
What actually gravitational waves are?
Gravitational waves are the small ripples in space-time caused by some energetic incidents and travels across the universe with the speed of light. Their existence was first theorized by Albert Einstein in 1916 in his infamous general theory of relativity. It was predicted that accelerating massive objects like black holes or a neutron star would disturb the space time in a manner that waves of distorted space would travel through the universe at the speed of light and would carry the information about its origin.The highly elusive gravitational waves are the results of massive object colliding each other such as when two black holes merges, the one that was detected by the LIGO which are installed in US and Italy. Unlike Newton, who considered gravitational waves as pulling force, Sir Albert Einstein considered it as a pushing force due to curvature of four dimensional fabric. The curvature can be compared to a dent that can be seen on a sheet when ball is placed on a plastic sheet resembling the four dimensional fabric.
How gravitational waves were detected?
LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational wave Observatory) is aimed at detecting the gravitational waves. LIGO installations are located in US (one in Hanford and another in Livingston) and in Italy. In US the two LIGO work in unison thus rule out the faint ripples caused by earthquake or from the space itself. They are located at 3002 km apart and as the gravitational waves travel at speed of light so it takes only few milliseconds for the waves to cover this distance.