What Are Gravitational Waves?

The Advanced LIGO team have announced that they had detected gravitational waves from a pair of black holes merging. Here’s all that you need to know about the newest discovery by mankind –

In physics, gravitational waves are ripples in the curvature of space-time which propagate as waves, travelling outward from the source. Predicted in 1916 by Albert Einstein on the basis of his theory of general relativity, gravitational waves transport energy as gravitational radiation. The existence of gravitational waves is a possible consequence of the Lorentz invariance of general relativity since it brings the concept of a limiting speed of propagation of the physical interactions with it. By contrast, gravitational waves cannot exist in the Newtonian theory of gravitation, which postulates that physical interactions propagate at infinite speed. The research conducted by the LIGO Collaboration that operates a number of labs around the world that fire lasers through long tunnels, trying to sense ripples in the fabric of space-time. They have observed the warping of space-time produced by the collision of two black holes more than a billion light-years from Earth. The international team says the first detection of these gravitational waves will usher in a new era for astronomy.

The detection is being called as one of the most important developments in science since the discovery of the Higgs particle, and on a par with the determination of the structure of DNA. It is the zenith of decades of searching and could ultimately offer a window on the Big Bang.