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Cal State Fullerton Researchers Help Confirm Presence of Gravitational Waves Predicted by Einstein

Gravitational Wave Researchers

CSUF Gravitational Wave researchers from left are: Geoffrey Lovelace, Joshua Smith, Jocelyn Read and Alfonso Agnew.

Ripples in the fabric of space-time called gravitational waves, predicted by Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity, have been detected for the first time by scientists, Cal State Fullerton announced Thursday.

Cal State Fullerton researchers were key contributors to the detection of gravitational waves that were first discovered on Sept. 14, 2015.

The detected gravitational waves were produced during the final fraction of a second of the merger of two black holes that took place 1.3 billion years ago, creating a single, more massive spinning black hole – an event that had been predicted but never observed, according to Cal State Fullerton researchers. Based on the observed signals, scientists estimate the black holes that collided were about 29 and 36 times the mass of the sun.

About 3 times the mass of the sun was converted into gravitational waves in a fraction of a second — with a peak power output about 50 times that of the whole visible universe.   According to general relativity, a pair of black holes orbiting around each other lose energy through the emission of gravitational waves, causing them to gradually approach each other over billions of years, and then much more quickly in the final minutes.

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