NEWS
17/10/2017 08:55 BST | Updated 17/10/2017 23:16 BST

What Exactly Is A Gravitational Wave?

Albert Einstein's 100-year-old theory about the speed of light has been proven.

The team behind the discovery, including Rainer Wess, Barry Barish and Kip Thorne, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2017.

What Is A Neutron Star?

According to Dobie, the name 'neutron star' can also be a little confusing.

"So, neutron stars are incredibly dense -- the name is a little misleading -- they are more like black holes than stars," Dobie explained.

"So to put it into perspective ... if you took the sun, a neutron star is about the mass of the sun, a little bit more, but shrunk down into sphere that is about 10-20 kilometres in diameter -- so really really compact.

"So the energy of the explosion [recently detected] is much, much more energy than the sun has omitted in its entire lifetime. It's huge amounts of energy."

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Gravitational waves can affect the orbit patterns of planets.

Why Is This Discovery Important?

"It is basically just confirming that Einstein was correct and he does seem to be right most of the time," Dobie said.

Albert Einstein predicted that these gravitational waves existed back in 1916 on the basis of his theory of general relativity. He said that gravitational waves transport energy as gravitational radiation and that they could be similar to electromagnetic radiation.

"So it is pretty big to be able to have another test of general relativity and that does seem to be how the universe tends to work for the most part," Dobie said.

"This detection is particularly exciting because it is the first detection of two neutron stars coming together. In the past we have detected black holes merging together but Einstein and most of the LIGO team expected that neutron stars would be the first gravitational wave of detection that we make and we might find the black holes later."

SCIENCE SOURCE
Albert Einstein's 100-year-old theory has been proven.