“Ladies and gentlemen, we have detected gravitational waves.” -David Reitze
More than 100 years after Einstein’s relativity came out, one of its last great predictions — the existence of gravitational radiation — has been directly experimentally confirmed! The LIGO collaboration has observed two ~30 solar mass black holes merging together, producing a slightly less massive final black hole as three sun’s worth of mass was converted into energy via Einstein’s E = mc^2.
This type of event, although quite serendipitous for the LIGO collaboration, is expected to occur between 2 and 4 times per year within the range of what LIGO can reach. Additionally, other types of mergers should be within the reach of what LIGO can see. Not only have we seen our first gravitational wave event, but we’re poised to truly begin the era of gravitational wave astronomy, as a new type of telescope is finally capable of seeing what’s happening in our Universe.