SCIENCE! Cornell researchers played “vital role” in validating historic LIGO gravitational wave detection

February 11, 2016 by Rachel Cera

Cornell says astrophysicists and scientists from the university "played a vital role to validate the historic news of the first direct detection of gravitational waves," news that has taken our corner of the universe by storm today.

Saul Teukolsky and Larry Kidder, two Cornell researchers who helped confirm LIGO detection. Photos provided by Cornell.Saul Teukolsky and Larry Kidder, two Cornell researchers who helped confirm LIGO detection. Photos provided by Cornell.Research published today in Physical Review Letters reports the detection by scientists from the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) of gravity waves that "result from two black holes spiraling in toward one another and smashing together." Albert Einstein predicted the effect about 100 years ago.

"This is something people have been looking for for a long time," said Saul Teukolsky, Cornell's Hans A. Bethe Professor of Physics and Astrophysics, who has been using supercomputers to solve Einstein’s equations for black hole mergers for much of his career.

Teukolsky is one of the researchers who leads the Simulation of eXtreme Spacetimes (SXS) collaboration group, which developed a theoretical model that LIGO and Europe's Virgo Group compared against the data detected last September.

"You need big computers because the equations are so complicated," explained Larry Kidder, a senior research associate at Cornell and a co-leader of the SXS collaboration. 

Cornell says others contributing to the work on campus were research associates Michael Boyle and Scott Field, and graduate students Andrew Bohn, Francois Hebert and William Throwe.

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