Tonight's Sky
Sun
Sun
Moon
Moon
Mercury
Mercury
Venus
Venus
Mars
Mars
Jupiter
Jupiter
Saturn
Saturn

Tonight's Sky — Change location

OR

Searching...

Tonight's Sky — Select location

Tonight's Sky — Enter coordinates

° '
° '

Gravitational Waves

After 100 years of theory and decades of experiments, astronomers at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory have detected gravitational waves directly for the first time. They announced their findings today at 10:30 am EST.

Gravitational waves are literally distortions in space-time, ripples in the fabric of the universe. Gravity is the weakest of the four fundamental forces, so only the most extreme events — black holes colliding, neutron stars twirling, a supernova erupting — would produce detectable waves. LIGO’s twin detectors, in Louisiana and Washington state, use lasers to watch for these tiny stretches and squeezes of space-time.

This finding is one of the biggest scientific discoveries of the decade, if not the century. Not only does it confirm yet another aspect of Albert Einstein’s theory of gravity, known as general relativity, but it also opens another avenue for researchers to observe and study the cosmos.

Follow along as we relive the breakthroughs that brought us to today and look to the future, as astronomers tune in to the sounds of the universe.
ADVERTISEMENT

FREE EMAIL NEWSLETTER

Receive news, sky-event information, observing tips, and more from Astronomy's weekly email newsletter.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
EclipseEguideBooklet

Click here to receive a FREE e-Guide exclusively from Astronomy magazine.

Find us on Facebook