The red herring, swimming in a sea of gravitational waves

March 27th, 2023

Space Australia, Other, 26/03/2023, Rami Mandow
Gravitational waves, whilst only recently having been directly confirmed, can reveal a lot about the Universe that we are unable to see through the electromagnetic spectrum. They can tell us about merging black holes, the formation history of galaxies, if neutron stars have tiny mountains on their surface, and how Einstein’s theory of gravity, General Relativity, holds up against assessment. To observe them directly, we normally utilise giant machines – known as interferometers to ‘listen’ and ‘feel’ them as they pass over the Earth, squeezing and stretching everything and everyone, by a variance no bigger than 1/10,000th the diameter of a proton. […] The new research is published in the journal, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Reporting on their findings, the team of astronomers, led by Dr Andrew Zic from the CSIRO and Macquarie University, simulated a virtual pulsar timing array (PTA) observing a set of 26 virtual pulsars to record their signal time of arrival and testing if the different parameters put into the simulation affected the outcome of the results – to the point where it could be mistaken as the recently observed common signal.

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