Now that the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) has detected gravitational waves as per Einstein’s theory, that are ripples in the curvature of space-time which propagate as waves, scientists predict the way they observe the universe is going to change. But why the discovery is such a big deal? What can astronomers and scientists do with gravitational waves?
Professor of astronomy Andrea Lommen thinks the gravitational waves discovery will revolutionize astronomy. It may improve understanding as much as Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei first looked the sky through his telescope, said Lommen from the Franklin & Marshall College.
The astronomy professor, who is co-founder of NANOGrav, also said that the gravitational waves are a part of her core research project. Her NANOGrav mission is a project on gravitational waves that includes scientists from a number of universities and colleges across the US.
On February 11, Lommen and her colleagues watched the live announcement on detection of gravitational waves by the LIGO researchers from Franklin & Marshall College. According to Lommen, it was a historic milestone which left many students with many questions. “This is a profound evolution of the field that they’re watching before their eyes”, she said.
A number of undergraduates at the Franklin & Marshall College have worked on NANOGrav under Lommen’s directions. A young astrophysics, Caitlin Rose, from California said the direct direction of space-time ripples has inspired her to enroll in Ph.D. programs in gravitational-wave research. She thinks the discovery will greatly impact her career. There are many undergraduate students across the US and many other nations who got inspired with the detection of gravitational waves.
According to Yaoyue Liang from China, she has been interested in gravitational waves since she came to know about them. Now that the researchers have spotted them, Liang has decided to do more research on the subject.