Tagged With gravitational wave astronomy

Gravitational waves may be the most exciting thing in astronomy right now, but there are only so many things in space that scientists can study with Earth-based gravitational wave detectors. An incredible new test has demonstrated that space-based detectors could become a reality, which could open our ears to entirely new sources of gravitational waves.

Today, physicists across the world celebrated as telescopes and observatories on Earth and in space captured a "kilonova." Two neutron stars collided 130 million light years away, sending gravitational waves, x-rays, gamma-rays, radio waves, and light waves to the Earth. But these events also serve as a new kind of tool -- a tool with the potential to answer one of the most fundamental questions in our universe: How quickly is it expanding?

Arguably the most exciting recent development in astronomy was 2016's announcement of the discovery of gravitational waves, waves that literally ripple the shape of space itself, created by violent events like black holes colliding. But every gravitational wave discovery had always been done with only two detectors, meaning that scientists only knew what caused the waves -- but couldn't really figure out where in the sky they came from.