Using the LIGO and VIRGO space observatories, experts are researching an event in a galaxy located 130 light years away from Earth, which according to experts, could be evidence of a completely new perturbation in space-time.
A signal detected from a galaxy located 130 million light-years away could provide new data on the origin of stars say experts, and it all has to do with Gravitational Waves, a cosmic phenomenon that until recently was thought to be only a theory.
Image: Cataclysmic collision. Dana Berry, SkyWorks Digital, Inc./Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
The phenomenon of gravitational waves was predicted by Albert Einstein in his theory of relativity. These waves are generated by the release of large amounts of energy, following the collision between objects of enormous density, such as black holes, providing relevant information about the origin of stars.
So far gravitational waves have been directly observed by scientists three times, the first on September 14, 2015, and in all cases, these were the result of collisions between black holes.
However, scientists at the American space observatory LIGO—Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory—and European VIRGO, a large interferometer designed to detect gravitational waves predicted by the general theory of relativity, believe they have witnessed a new source of gravitational disturbances, caused by the collision of two neutron stars, resulting from the collapse of supergiant stars.
Astronomer J. Craig Wheeler of the University of Texas at Austin launched speculation over a potential new LIGO detection by tweeting: “New LIGO. Source with optical counterpart. Blow your sox off,” reports New Scientist.
To corroborate the source of the cosmic waves, scientists pointed their telescopes, including Hubble, to a galaxy called NGC 4993 in order to gather more details.
Astronomers believe the signal has its origin in a binary neutron star belonging to that galaxy, located about 130 million light years from Earth.
While several astronomers have tweeted messages speculating about the imminent detection of gravitational waves, LIGO observatory spokesman David Shoemaker has merely confirmed that “A very exciting O2 Observing run is drawing to a close August 25. We look forward to posting a top-level update at that time.”
Andy Howell, an astronomer at Las Cumbres University, composed a tweet saying how “watching the astronomical observations roll in is better than any story any human has ever told”, but didn’t give any information about what specifically he had spotted.
According to statements from LIGO and VIRGO, we can expect a statement about the discovery any day now.
Interestingly, according to NATURE, Public records show that NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has spotted γ-rays emerging from the same region of the sky as the potential gravitational-wave source.
The latest we know from astronomers is resumed in an update posted by The LIGO–Virgo collaboration saying: “Some promising gravitational-wave candidates have been identified in data from both LIGO and Virgo during our preliminary analysis, and we have shared what we currently know with astronomical observing partners. We are working hard to assure that the candidates are valid gravitational-wave events, and it will require time to establish the level of confidence needed to bring any results to the scientific community and the greater public. We will let you know as soon we have information ready to share.”