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The Journey of a Gravitational Wave II: GWs Get Bent

27 Jul 2012, 04:24 UTC
The Journey of a Gravitational Wave II: GWs Get Bent
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What happens to a gravitational wave between when it is produced and when LIGO can detect it? It turns out not much, which makes it a key new medium in which to observe the Universe!Last week, I began discussing what happens to a gravitational wave as it makes its way from its source to Earth; specifically that gravitational wave can travel through matter and come out the other side unchanged! Today's post talks about how the gravitational effects of other masses in the Universe can deflect the gravitational wave from its otherwise straight path. GRAVITATIONAL LENSINGLet's think again about what happens to light on its way to Earth. We know from the last post that any matter light comes into contact with will reflect or absorb at least part of the light. There is also another effect called gravitational lensing that causes light to bend around massive objects due to the massive object's gravitational influence. This is caused by light following its natural path on curved spacetime (or light being bent by a gravitational field since we've previously established that the curvature of spacetime is a representation of the strength of the gravitational field there). The first thing that pops ...

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