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Published on Feb 11, 2016
In a world first, scientists have observed ripples in the fabric of space-time called gravitational waves, arriving at the earth from a cataclysmic event in the distant universe. This confirms a major prediction of Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity and opens an unprecedented new window to the cosmos.
The University of Western Australia is part of an international project team which has spent the past seven years putting together gravitational-wave detector equipment used to regularly measure gravitational waves. The detectors use powerful lasers to measure vibrations of mirrors suspended four kilometres apart at the ends of huge vacuum pipes.
Gravitational waves carry information about their dramatic origins and about the nature of gravity that cannot otherwise be obtained. Physicists have concluded that the detected gravitational waves were produced during the final fraction of a second of the merger of two black holes to produce a single, more massive spinning black hole. This collision of two black holes had been predicted but never observed.