Found! Gravitational Waves, or a Wrinkle in Spacetime
Ripples produced by enormous cosmic events could open a new era in astronomy.
After nearly a century, the hunt for an elusive cosmic quarry is over. With the help of lasers and mirrors, scientists have directly observed gravitational waves, or wrinkles in the fabric of spacetime itself.
Two colliding black holes, one with 36 times the mass of the sun, and the other with 29, emitted those gravitational waves as they spiralled into one another and eventually collided.
From roughly 1.3 billion light-years away, these waves spread like ripples in the cosmic pond and washed over Earth on September 14, causing a minuscule but measurable change in the distance between four sets of mirrors—two in Louisiana, and two in Washington state.
In the last second before the black holes merged, they released 50 times more energy