Cosmic Ripples: LIGO's Search for Gravitational Waves
3:00- 4:00 pm , 104 VanderWerf
According to Einstein's theory of general relativity, mass curves spacetime. When the distribution of mass changes, the curvature must also change and that change spreads outwards through space like the ripples on a pond. These ripples, also called gravitational waves, are very faint. Only the most catastrophic events and massive objects in the universe are capable of producing gravitational waves of measurable strength.
Recently LIGO (the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observitory) began a year long attempt to detect gravitational waves for the first time. Once these elusive spacetime ripples are caught, they will reveal important information about their sources. With gravitational waves it will be possible to watch neutron stars and black holes collide, see into the heart of a supernova, and look back to the moment of the universe's creation.