Gravitational waves are a huge new phenomenon in the field of astronomy. In the olden days, astronomers used light reflected from a celestial object to determine its distance. However, this method was deeply flawed as many objects that were duller, but nearer appeared brighter than other objects that were much farther away. So, this method had drawbacks and produced erroneous research. It was Bernard Schutz who first theorized that gravitational waves could help indicate the distance between two objects in space, as early as the 1980s. This theory opened a pathway for more significant research and discoveries unforeseen before. Also, many other cosmic events will be more natural to gauge through this discovery.
In 1980, Bernard Schutz, a physicist at the Cardiff University in Wales, first came up with the concept of gravitational waves. He theorized a solution to the old problem of measuring the distance of cosmic objects. Moreover, he said that if they could measure the waves emitted from astronomical objects could be measured, or the waves exchanged between a pair of objects between each other, and it was possible to measure their distance. The technology to measure gravitational waves was not there until 2017. Bernard Schutz, who first put forth the theory, had a long time to wait before he could put the approach to the test. However, once this technology was available, it revolutionized everything. The results he obtained putting the theory to check for the first time gave better results than he expected.
According to Schutz, it was possible to understand the rate at which the universe was expanding. The first cosmic phenomenon he tested was the merger between two neutron stars when their reverberation passed through Earth’s gravitational wave detector. This merger was 130 million years old. The results that he obtained were unprecedented and even better than he expected.
Further, gravitational scientists also think that this technology and method can give them an insight into the black holes in the universe. Also, they might be able to provide them with opportunities to accurately measure another cosmic phenomenon even though they are far away in other galaxies. Researchers have a long list of things they want to apply this technology. The US-based Virgo observatory Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory or LIGO based in Pisa, Italy, will help them with these discoveries. They will help make essential observations regarding gravitational waves and also be aided by interferometers in space and even on Earth.
The Way Forward
Gravitational waves have a long-range of frequencies. However, only some of them can be detected by LIGO and terrestrial interferometers. Hence, several wave frequencies cannot be identified by these, which limited their scope of discoveries. To this end, astronomers are planning to put other interferometers in space. That can increase their range and expand their reach of invention considerably.
Ever since gravitational waves have been used, they have brought to light outstanding discoveries at a rate even the scientists could not have anticipated. It remains to see what other monumental feats they achieve using this technology in the coming times. Also, how much they can further refine the research method is under constant study.