Has LIGO detected gravitational waves?

Share this page

Having spent the summer of 1993 on a student placement in a gravitational wave lab, I am finding it very hard to stay calm about the rumours that we may have finally detected gravitational waves. Whispers from a few months ago have built to excited headlines this week that LIGO may have detected gravitational waves produced by the merger of two black holes.

We've poked and prodded our contacts in the field but they don't want to comment at this stage – although it seems the rumours are solid and the scientists themselves are getting quite excited. We'll just have to be patient and wait for the LIGO team to analyse their data, which, to be fair, they only finished collecting yesterday. Stay tuned for an announcement over the coming months. And while you're waiting, you can read, watch and listen to some of our favourite physicists talking about black holes and gravitational waves.

What is a black hole? — One of the strangest prediction of general relativity is that the Universe contains black holes. We asked cosmologist Pau Figueras everything you've ever wanted to know about them. Read the articles (What is a black hole – physically? and What is a black hole – mathematically?), listen to the podcasts or watch the video!

How does gravity work? — We explore Newton's gravity, Einstein's gravity and the ripples in space-time called gravitational waves.

What is general relativity? — Physicist David Tong explains the theory and the equation that expresses it. Watch the video or read the article!

Catching waves with Kip Thorne — What happens when one black hole meets another? Kip Thorne shows us how to eavesdrop on these cosmic events by watching for telltale gravitational waves.


I do hope gravity waves have been detected. I'm excited too about the 'LISA' (?) space detector project. I am wondering if the rings of Saturn could be used to detect them. Would not a wave traveling thru them cause a ripple in them detectable by some system, laser beam or whatever.
Thank you,
Jim Oss,
Wa Keeney, Kansas

  • Want facts and want them fast? Our Maths in a minute series explores key mathematical concepts in just a few words.