GeekDad: Observation of Gravitational Waves from a Binary Black Hole Merger

Black Holes LIGO

One Hundred years after Albert Einstein predicted the existence of Gravitational Waves, the announcement that they had been discovered finally came. The two detectors of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO)  simultaneously observed a transient gravitational-wave signal last year on September 14th.

From the Introduction in the Physical Review Letters paper:

“In 1916, the year after the final formulation of the field equations of general relativity, Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves. He found that the linearized weak-field equations had wave solutions: transverse waves of spatial strain that travel at the speed of light, generated by time variations of the mass quadrupole moment of the source. Einstein understood that gravitational-wave amplitudes would be remarkably small; moreover, until the Chapel Hill conference in 1957 there was significant debate about the physical reality of gravitational waves.”


From the Conclusion:


“The LIGO detectors have observed gravitational waves from the merger of two stellar-mass black holes. The detected waveform matches the predictions of general relativity for the inspiral and merger of a pair of black holes and the ringdown of the resulting single black hole. These observations demonstrate the existence of binary stellar-mass black hole systems. This is the first direct detection of gravitational waves and the first observation of a binary black hole merger.”


The complete paper can be read here:


 – Your Joyful Benefactor
Image: LIGO

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