US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — Last year, the Advanced LIGO-VIRGO network of gravitational wave detectors recorded data from 35 merging black holes and neutron stars. Great result – but what did they miss? As it turned out, only 8 billion light-years of evolution of the universe.
According to Dr. Rory Smith of the ARC Center for Advanced Research on Gravity Waves at Monash University in Australia, there are another 2 million gravitational wave events from black hole fusion that scientists have not been able to detect.
Dr. Smith and his colleagues, also from Monash University, have developed a method for detecting the presence of these weak or “background” events that have gone unnoticed to date. It is noteworthy that this technique eliminates the need to detect each of them individually.
The method that is currently being developed by the LIGO community – “means that we can look at 8 billion light-years farther than what we are currently observing. This will give us an idea of what the early universe looked like and also give an idea of the evolution of the universe.”
An article recently published in the journal of the Royal Astronomical Society details how researchers will measure the background properties of gravitational waves from millions of unresolved mergers in black holes.
Binary black hole fusions emit a huge amount of energy in the form of gravitational waves and are now regularly detected by the Advanced LIGO-Virgo network of detectors. According to co-author of a new study by Eric Train of OzGrav-Monash, these gravitational waves generated by individual binary fusions carry information about space-time and nuclear matter in the most extreme environments in the universe. Separate observations of gravitational waves track the evolution of stars, cluster stars, and galaxies.
“Having gathered together information about many merger events, we can begin to understand the environment in which stars live and develop, and what determines their possible fate – black holes. The farther we see gravitational waves from these mergers, the younger the universe. We can trace the evolution of stars and galaxies throughout cosmic time, back when the Universe was part of its current age.”
Researchers measure the population properties of black hole double fusions, such as the distribution of black hole masses. The vast majority of compact binary mergers produce gravitational waves that are too weak for unambiguous detections, which is why our observatories currently miss a huge amount of information.
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