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Gravitational Waves, Illustration

Gravitational Waves, Illustration

C039/1450

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Credit

ELLA MARUS STUDIO / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ELLA MARUS STUDIO / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

In physics, gravitational waves are ripples in the curvature of spacetime that propagate as a wave, travelling outward from the source. Predicted to exist by Albert Einstein in 1915 on the basis of his theory of general relativity, gravitational waves theoretically transport energy as gravitational radiation. Although gravitational radiation has not been directly detected, there is indirect evidence for its existence. For example, the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded for measurements of the Hulse-Taylor binary system that suggests gravitational waves are more than mathematical anomalies. As objects with mass move around in spacetime, the curvature changes to reflect the changed locations of those objects. In certain circumstances, accelerating objects generate changes in this curvature, which propagate outwards at the speed of light in a wave-like manner.

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