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What could be more awesome than detecting something never detected before, making one of the most monumental discoveries in physics, and confirming Albert Einstein’s 100-year-old predictions?
Detecting that same thing in space.
On Tuesday, at a press conference at the European Space Astronomy Center, scientists announced that they're one step closer to building a giant detector in space called the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) that will be able to detect ripples in the fabric of spacetime called gravitational waves.
You've probably heard of the Earth-based Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), which changed history when it first detected these gravitational waves in September. While LIGO can spot what’s produced by stars exploding and black holes colliding, LISA will be able to detect gravitational waves that are made when entire galaxies collide. And this would help us better understand how galaxies form and evolve.
Studying the universe in gravity could allow us to see as far back in time as the big bang, NASA scientist Charles Dunn told Business Insider. “It’s like opening a new window,” Oliver Jennrich, ESA deputy project scientist, told Business Insider. “All of a sudden we learn about things we had no clue existed.”
The mission is a collaboration between many institutions, including the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA.
What we are able to see with light only makes up .4% of the universe. The rest of the universe is invisible. We only know it exists because it generates gravity.
Gravity is currently the least understood force in physics. But thanks to that monumental September discovery we know that extreme events in the universe can create gravitational waves.
When you toss a pebble into a pond, it creates ripples on the surface that spread out, getting fainter as they get further from where the pebble smacked into the water. Gravitational waves do something similar...
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