In their quest to uncover the secrets of the universe, the brightest minds of NASA and beyond have used plenty of means and machines. Telescopes, satellites, and the odd shuttle or two have all seen fair use over the years. But now the plan is to use a different approach; if they cant see whats happening amongst the stars, then theyll try to hear it instead.
The idea behind it ties to gravitational waves. In essence, these waves in space and time are created by potent events in the universe, which also happen to move at the speed of light. By using a unique setup that involves high-powered lasers and mirror-filled tunnels, its possible to detect the low-frequency aftereffects of the gravitational waves. Distance aside, the ability to spot even the slightest change is why scientists say that theyll hear the universe in abstract as well as concrete terms.
The best indication of where and when the ripples occur is likely going to be with stronger cosmic events a supernova or a black hole collision, for example. While the means to record those ripples Advanced Ligo facilities in Washington and Louisiana, to start still need some tuning up, they should also be able to pick up on minor gravitational waves as well. Ultimately, theyre giving scientists another tool to figure out what makes the universe tick; if it works out, theyll have data never thought possible.
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