February 27, 2024

Taylor Daily Press

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The green light for the first space telescope to detect gravitational waves

The green light for the first space telescope to detect gravitational waves

The Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, or LISA for short, will consist of three separate spacecraft. Together they form a giant equilateral triangle, the length of its sides is no less than 2.5 million kilometers, that is, 6 times longer than the distance between the Earth and the Moon.

These extreme distances are necessary because gravitational waves are very small vibrations that travel in space tissue. These vibrations are caused by many high-energy phenomena in the universe, such as the collision of galaxies or black holes and the explosions of dying stars.

When gravitational waves pass through the sides of Lisa's triangle, their length changes slightly. In this way waves can be detected. But this discovery is considered a great achievement: the length of the sides is calculated with an accuracy of up to picometers. In comparison, atoms are only a few tens of picometers in size.

Einstein predicted in his theory of relativity at the beginning of the twentieth century the existence of gravitational waves. The idea of ​​detecting waves from space was introduced in the 1970s. Only now does the technological challenges seem to be under control. An important hurdle was overcome in 2015, when the existence of gravitational waves could be confirmed conclusively for the first time thanks to measurements.

LISA is scheduled to be launched in 2035. Hardware construction will continue in the coming period. The LISA spacecraft will collect data for at least five years.

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