In 2015, we first detected gravitational waves. They were predicted by Einstein and his theory of relativity 100 years earlier. Recently, an exciting event was recorded.
The latest event involved a third detector in Italy, the Virgo interferometer, and was the first time neutron stars merging was the source (previously black holes merging was the source). This was a long-duration event, and the use of a third detector made it possible to more precisely identify the location of the merger. Another first was that this event was recorded in the electromagnetic spectrum, identifying a precise location.
Everything we know about the universe prior to 2015 is from electromagnetic radiation. This is the dawn of an entirely new field of astronomy with vast potential beyond what we already know.
There is more exciting news. Three founders of the two Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory detectors that detected the first four events received the 2017 Physics Nobel Prize.
Public Night at the observatory is the first Friday each month: humbleisd.net/observatory.
By Dr. Aaron B. Clevenson
Observatory Director, Insperity Observatory