A new detector of gravitational waves has discovered two signals that could take this kind of research to a new level. Unlike larger instruments in the class, such as LIGO and Virgo, the new device consists only of a disc made of quartz crystal, 3 cm in diameter. However, his discoveries remain a mystery.
When we hit a surface with a hammer, we hear the crashing sound because the impact releases an amount of energy that spreads through the air in the form of ripples. These ripples, in turn, reach our hearing aids, and our brain interprets these signals as “sound.”
Similarly, the collision between massive cosmic objects such as neutron stars NS black holes, releases energy that propagates through the universe in the form of ripples in the fabric of space-time. These ripples travel in all directions at the speed of light, but weaken as they move through unknown space.
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However, some of them reach us on Earth and can be detected by LIGO and Virgo – who use giant laser-powered instruments to search for massive ripples in space-time. The waves produced by cataclysmic cosmic collisions are so powerful that they are hundreds of kilometers long.
However, there must be smaller gravitational waves, caused by events of smaller dimensions, or even echoes of events that occurred immediately after the Big Bang. At that time, the universe went through transitions so severe that scientists expect the ripples that arose in those times to echo to this day, just as the cosmic background radiation provides remnants of light from that time.
To find these tiny gravitational wave signals, the scientists built a tiny Christian quartz device, with a resonant chamber that produces an electrical signal whenever it vibrates at certain frequencies. These frequencies, which the researchers chose to produce a positive detection, correspond to the length of the gravitational waves they want to find: just a few metres, or a few kilometres.
This experiment performed a 153-day test, during which the crystal rang twice, for one or two seconds. Scientists are now trying to figure out the reason for these findings: cosmic rays streaming into space? Any special events? Or it will be emission of ripples caused by dark matter around A Black hole?
There are many possible explanations for these signals, including thermal fluctuations in the crystal itself (which should be minimized due to the ultra-cold temperatures caused by scientists, but unknown fluctuations cannot yet be ruled out). Among the possibilities are some hypotheses about new physics, such as the axion particle, one of the candidates for the dark matter component.
Currently, there is insufficient evidence to indicate the events that led to the detection of waves by the crystal, but this result means that similar new devices can be created. If several of them detect the same signal at the same time, it will be easier to develop hypotheses that can explain the events.
study was Published in Physical Review Letters.
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