By: Matthew Seaver, Web Editor
After fifty years of research, science made a major leap forward this week with the first confirmed detection of gravitational waves.
The waves were discovered by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), a pair of ground-based observatories in Hanford, Washington and Livingston, Louisiana.
“We have detected gravitational waves. We did it,” Executive Director of LIGO David Reitze told CNN.
The famous scientist Albert Einstein predicted the existence of these waves as a part of his theory of relativity that he proposed about a century ago.
Einstein originally imagined these as lines or waves of gravity created by two very large stars or black holes that are orbiting or colliding with each other.
The detection of these gravitational waves opens up an entirely new field of astrophysics. Prior to this discovery, all of the information that could be gathered about the universe surrounding us came from the spectrum of light.
Gravitational waves give scientists another dimension to work in while mapping out the universe.
Studied alongside light, scientists believe that they will be able to look farther into our universe’s past and get one step closer to knowing what happened at the beginning of the universe.
NASA, in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA), is working on a way to move the technology used to detect the waves into space for more precise measurements and to detect gravitational waves too small to reach the surface of Earth.