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Gravitational Waves: Detected For First Time

Ripples in Space and Time
Gravitational Waves: Detected For First Time
The sound of two black holes colliding arrived as a faint chirp lasting just a fifth of a second on waves of gravity sent across the universe. And it was music to the ears of scientists.

The message from space that Albert Einstein foretold a century ago has been delivered — 1.3 billion years after it was sent."Ladies and gentlemen, we have detected gravitational waves," David Reitze, executive director of Caltech's twin Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) laboratory, said at a news conference in Washington, D.C.

"We did it!" Reitze said to an unusual standing ovation.

"These gravitational waves were produced by two colliding black holes that merged to form a single black hole 1.3 billion years ago."

Such a collision has never been seen before. Black holes are powerful objects, collapsed stars that pull in vast quantities of matter and concentrate them into a very small area.

These two were about 150 km, just under 100 miles, in diameter. "Pack 30 times the mass of the sun into that," Reitze said. "Accelerate it to about half the speed of light."

Two of these massive, fast-moving objects circled one another, crashed, and merged to form a single black hole.

"That's what we saw here. It's mind-boggling," Reitze said.

It was a monstrous collision, so big that it literally shook the fabric of space-time.

These waves then spread a little bit like ripples expanding from the plunk of a pebble in water.

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