Detection of gravitational waves to help unlock further secrets of Universe: Australian scientists

Source: Xinhua| 2017-10-17 14:25:59|Editor: liuxin
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CANBERRA, Oct. 17 (Xinhua) -- The world-first detection of gravitational waves as a result of two dense stars colliding could help astronomers unlock further secrets about the Universe, Australian scientists have said on Tuesday.

Last month, a team of international scientists - including those from Canberra's Australian National University (ANU) - captured audio of the first ever gravitational waves, which occurred as a result of two neutron stars colliding in deep space. The waves alerted scientists of the likely existence of light, gamma rays and radio waves resulting from the same event.

In a media release on Tuesday, Professor Susan Scott from the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering, said the discovery of gravitational waves was "just the beginning", as the breakthrough would see astronomers and gravitational wave scientists working closely together to unlock further secrets of the Universe.

"This discovery of neutron stars colliding is just the beginning. We want to one day look back to the beginning of time - just after the Big Bang, which we can't do with light," Scott said.

"This is the first time that the collision of two neutron stars has been detected, and this is the closest and most precisely located gravitational wave signal we've received. It is also the loudest gravitational wave signal we've detected."

She added that as there were further technological advancements on the way in the astronomy field, it was an "amazing time" to be a scientist.

"With this discovery we have the opportunity to learn so much more about neutron stars, which have been quite a mystery to us," she said.

"Unlike black holes, neutron star collisions emit other signals such as gamma rays, light and radio waves so astronomers around the world were able to observe the event through telescopes. This is an amazing time to be a scientist."

Meanwhile, Professor David McClelland from the ANU's Research School of Physics and Engineering said he was at the helm of a team which was enhancing the technology on the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), based in the United States.

"Using quantum mechanical techniques, we will make the largest optical sensors ever built even more powerful," he said on Tuesday.

"We will then detect many more gravitational waves from cataclysmic events in space, involving black holes, neutron stars and things not yet known. All of this paints an incredibly bright future for the field."