Fluctuations in the fabric of space-time, known as gravitational waves, can give us an idea of the moment time began, the Big Bang.
Gravitational waves are wavelets that travel at the speed of light in the fabric of space-time and are produced by incredibly violent events.
Researchers at Princeton believe that gravitational waves from the early universe may have affected the stars whose light we can see on Earth today.
The finding could offer scientists a new way to understand the early moments of the universe.
Since 2015, scientists have made it possible thanks to detectors on Earth, including the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO).
The LIGO project uses lasers to measure small changes in the length of a tunnel to measure gravitational waves.
Gravitational waves, first predicted by Albert Einstein in 1916 as a result of his theory of relativity, are distortions in space-time caused by the motion of very dense objects.
By learning how these fluctuations in the fabric of the universe flow through gas between planets and galaxies, the researchers say they can better understand the state of the cosmos shortly after the Big Bang.
“We can’t see the first universe directly, but maybe indirectly if we look at how gravitational waves at that time affected matter and radiation,” says Deepen Garg, a graduate student in the Princeton Plasma Physics Program. We can observe today.
Garg adapted this technique from their research into fusion energy, the process that powers the sun and stars that scientists are developing to generate electricity on Earth without emitting greenhouse gases or producing long-lived radioactive waste.
Fusion scientists calculate how electromagnetic waves move through plasma, the soup of electrons and atomic nuclei that feeds fusion facilities known as tokamaks and stargazers.
It turned out that this process resembles the movement of gravitational waves through matter.
“We basically put plasma wave machines to work on a gravitational wave problem,” Garg said.
Garg created formulas that could theoretically direct gravitational waves to reveal hidden features about celestial bodies like stars many light-years away.
As waves flow through matter, they create light whose properties depend on the density of matter.
A physicist could analyze this light and discover the properties of a star millions of light-years away.
The technique could also lead to discoveries about neutron stars and black holes colliding with the extremely dense remnants of stellar death.
It could even potentially provide insight into what happened during the Big Bang and in the early moments of our universe.
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