GRAVITATIONAL WAVES DETECTED 100 YEARS AFTER EINSTEIN’S PREDICTION
LIGO Opens New Window on the Universe with Observation of Gravitational Waves from Colliding Black Holes
Australian scientists play a key role in major discovery
For the first time, scientists have observed ripples in the fabric of spacetime called gravitational waves, arriving at the earth from a cataclysmic event in the distant universe. This confirms a major prediction of Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity and opens an unprecedented new window onto the cosmos.
Gravitational waves carry information about their dramatic origins and about the nature of gravity that cannot otherwise be obtained. Physicists have concluded that the detected gravitational waves were produced during the final fraction of a second of the merger of two black holes to produce a single, more massive spinning black hole. This collision of two black holes had been predicted but never observed.
The gravitational waves were detected on September 14, 2015 at 5:51 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (9:51 a.m. UTC) by both of the twin Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors, located in Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington, USA. The LIGO Observatories are funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and were conceived, built, and are operated by Caltech and MIT.
The discovery, accepted for publication in the journal Physical Review Letters, was made by the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (which includes the Australian Consortium for Interferometric Gravitational Astronomy (ACIGA) and the GEO600 Collaboration) and the Virgo Collaboration using data from the two LIGO detectors.
Australian scientists from The Australian National University (ANU), the University of Adelaide, The University of Melbourne, the University of Western Australia (UWA), Monash University and Charles Sturt University, contributed to the discovery and helped build some of the super-sensitive instruments used to detect the gravitational waves.
FULL MEDIA RELEASE WITH QUOTES BELOW
MEDIA CONFERENCE DETAILS
WHAT: Australian announcement of gravitational wave search results
- Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel
- CEO Australian Research Council, Professor Aidan Byrne
- ANU Vice-Chancellor and Nobel Laureate Professor Brian Schmidt AC
- Senator Zed Seselja (representing the Minister for Education)
- Scientists from the Australian National University (ANU), University of Western Australia, The University of Adelaide, the University of Melbourne, Monash University and Charles Sturt University
WHERE: Senate Alcove, Parliament House
WHEN: 10am Friday 12 February 2015
For media assistance, contact the ANU media hotline on (02) 6125 7979.