The massive discovery of gravitational waves could shake science to its core.
It has been hailed as one of the greatest discoveries in modern times: scientists have proven the existence of gravitational waves, and most people probably don’t realize just how much that could totally change astronomy.
The stunning announcement that scientists using the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) had found what they had long been looking for shook the scientific community. One of the biggest reasons it was such an important discovery is that it confirms Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity after all these years, but it’s important for another important reason: it could open up a “dark” universe, according to a Discovery News report.
Famed physicist Stephen Hawking chimed in with praise of the discovery, saying it offered a “completely new way of looking at the universe,” and went so far as to say that the “ability to detect them has the potential to revolutionize astronomy” — no small claim from a person like Hawking.
The gravitational waves were detected from two black holes merging 1.3 billion years ago. The discovery, made by twin LIGO observating stations in Louisiana and Washington, showed a clear signal that matched theoretical models.
The incredible discovery could shed more light on how black holes grow. Currently, the major mystery about black holes is why there are smaller, stellar-mass black holes and then supermassive black holes at the center of galaxies, while there are relatively few intermediate mass black holes. Scientists have been trying to understand how intermediate black holes form and how stellar mass black holes eventually turn into gargantuan supermassive black holes. The detection of gravitational waves could provide vital clues on the evolution of black holes that could change our understanding of the universe.