Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A great week for gravitational waves and black holes

What a great week! There were at least four pieces of great news for us researchers working on gravitational waves, general relativity, and black holes. In no particular order:
  1. Announcement of first direct of gravitational waves by LIGO

     In case you were away from the internet for the past week and for some reason our blog was your first stop: LIGO did it! This was the first detection and many more will come. Dave blogged about his reaction here. I don't think I need to write much about this—go read the detection paper, Emanuele's Physics Viewpoint piece, and take a look at some of the follow-up papers.
  2. LISA Pathfinder successfully released its two test masses
    The release was the mechanism that people were most worried about—would it stick? But the LPF team has demonstrated that their technology works! Also, apparently we've entered that era where our news comes from Twitter:
    Just kidding, you can go read the press release.
  3. Astro-H launches successfully

     Hitomi (the name after the successful launch) is an x-ray calorimeter spectrometer satellite. Its spectral resolution is going to knock the socks off of older x-ray missions. This is crucial for careful measurements of accretion disks around stellar-mass black holes, which can be used for tests of general relativity (ok, it can also be used for a whole lot of other astrophysics).
    See the press release.
  4. LIGO-India granted 'in-principle' approval

    I don't really know the full politics regarding why it's in-principle, or why that has to be in quotes. Maybe somebody wiser than I can read between the lines in their press release. Anyway, it would be fantastic for gravitational wave science to get another detector on the opposite side of the Earth! One of the most famous researchers of general relativity, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, was Indian, and lots of excellent researchers have followed in his footsteps.
The future of gravitational wave astrophysics is looking very healthy!

No comments:

Post a Comment