National Academy of Sciences
Astrophysicists may have detected gravitational waves last week from the collision of two neutron stars in a distant galaxy — and telescopes trained on the same region might also have spotted the event.
A long, long time ago, a pair of black holes collided with such power that they created ripples in spacetime, which emanated through the universe. All the while, molecules on a tiny rock in a fairly irrelevant nook of the Milky Way galaxy arranged themselves into living things, which evolved into self-aware apes. Those apes eventually realized they could actually measure those spacetime wobbles, and built several kilometer-long machines (tiny if you really think about it) in order to do so. When they flipped the switch, they caught the wobbles just in time.
Last year’s gravitational wave discovery may have felt like the end of an era—a momentous occasion in which a precise experiment finally ended a hundred-year search to confirm a baffling prediction made by Albert Einstein. The discovery, instead, spawned an entirely new field of astronomy, and the results are finally starting to trickle in.