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What LIGO Detected

21 Mar 2016, 07:01 UTC
What LIGO Detected LIGO, NSF
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This is a followup to last week’s post What LIGO Proved. If you haven’t read that yet, you should check it out. It was more of an intro to the topic, but this week we’ll get into the technical details. The detection of gravitational waves could rank as one of the top scientific discoveries of all time. And as I speculated last week, LIGO will almost certainly take the Nobel Prize in Physics for 2016.
We’ll start with a closer look at the signals detected. The top graphic shows signals received by the two LIGO detectors, one near Hanford, Washington, the other near Livingston, Louisiana. The two detectors are 3002 km (1865 miles) apart for good reason. If both detectors receive the same signal, it virtually guarantees that signal was real. Otherwise, the signal could be an artifact of electronics or programming or local terrestrial vibrations.
The top row shows how both signals appear almost identical. The bottom row shows what the signal was predicted to look like using a super-computer simulation based on General Relativity. What they were detecting and simulating was the merger of two black holes. Everything matches so well that LIGO researchers are convinced ...

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