New Evidence for the Existence of the Gravitational-Wave Background of the Universe

(ORDO NEWS) — An international team of researchers has presented the results of the first comprehensive search for ultra-low-frequency background gravitational waves.

This “ripple” of space-time, predicted by Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, pervades the entire universe, and its source may be collisions between the most massive black holes in our world or events that occurred shortly after the formation of the universe during the Big Bang. Scientists have been looking for convincing evidence of the existence of such radiation for several decades.

The International Pulsar Timing Array (IPTA), which includes several astrophysical collaborations around the world, recently completed its search for gravitational waves – and, as a result of the work, presented a new data release called Data Release 2 (DR2).

This dataset includes precision time-of-arrival data from 65-millisecond pulsars, stellar remnants that rotate at speeds of the order of hundreds of revolutions per second and emit highly focused beams of radio waves as they spin.

The data were obtained by combining the contributions of three collaborations participating in the IPTA project – the European Pulsar Timing Array (EPTA), the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves (NANOGrav), and the Parkes Pulsar Timing Array in Australia (PPTA).

The analysis of this combined data set has revealed strong evidence for the presence of an ELF signal that affects many of the pulsars in this set. The characteristics of this “common” signal for many pulsars are in good agreement with the expected characteristics of the gravitational wave background of the Universe.

The gravitational wave background is formed by many overlapping gravitational wave signals emitted by members of the cosmic population of supermassive black holes (that is, pairs in which two supermassive black holes orbit each other and eventually combine) – similar to how in a crowded room, background noise is created by combining many individual voices, the authors explained.

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