Image of gravitational wave detections
Original Published Date: 
Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Full story issued by The Australian National University.

A team of international scientists, including ARC-supported researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery (OzGrav), have unveiled the largest number of gravitational waves ever detected.

The discoveries will help solve some of the most complex mysteries of the universe, including the building blocks of matter and the workings of space and time.

The global team have reported making 35 new detections of gravitational waves caused by pairs of black holes merging or neutron stars and black holes smashing together, using the LIGO and Virgo observatories between November 2019 and March 2020.

This brings the total number of detections to 90 after three observing runs between 2015 and 2020.

Distinguished Professor Susan Scott, from the ANU Centre for Gravitational Astrophysics, said the latest discoveries represented 'a tsunami' and that the continual improvement of gravitational wave detector sensitivity was helping drive an increase in detections.

'This new technology is allowing us to observe more gravitational waves than ever before. We are also probing the two black hole mass gap regions and providing more tests of Einstein's theory of general relativity,' says Professor Scott.

'The other really exciting thing about the constant improvement of the sensitivity of the gravitational wave detectors is that this will then bring into play a whole new range of sources of gravitational waves, some of which will be unexpected.'

Photo credit: 

Graphic depicting the gravitational wave mergers detected since the historic first discovery in 2015. Credit: Carl Knox (ARC Centre of Excellence OzGrav, Swinburne University of Technology)