Gravitational Waves Current Affairs - 2020

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LIGO: Second Merger of Neutron Stars detected

The LIGO (Laser Inferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory) detected gravitational waves due to collision of two neutron stars. This is the second time the gravitational waves are being detected.


The mass of the neutron stars detected is expected to be 3.3 times and 3.7 times as that of the sun. The scientists believe that the neutron stars were formed separately and drifted together to form a star pair. The neutron stars were at a distance of 520 million light years from the earth. The combined mass is the heaviest of the stars known so far.

The first neutron star detection was in 2017. However, the second event that was recorded now, is not as strong as the first.


Currently LIGO operates three gravitational wave detectors at Livingston, Louisiana and Hanford. They are located 3,000 km apart in the shape of ‘L’.

Indian Contribution

LIGO India is to come up in Maharashtra. It will aim at locating gravitational waves and their new sources.

Why is the study important?

The gravitational waves are caused by exploding stars, black holes, merging neutron stars. LIGO helps to detect these waves and analyze the information that they carry. As the waves interact very weakly with matter, they help to learn about the universe and its origin.

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2017 Nobel Prize in physics goes to the discovery of Gravitational Waves

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has selected three American scientists Rainer Weiss, Barry C. Barish and Kip S. Thorne for the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics.

They were selected for their decisive contributions to the LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational wave Observatory) detector and the observation of gravitational waves.

Dr. Weiss — born in Berlin and now a US citizen received half the prize. The remaining half was shared equally by two Caltech scientists — Dr. Barish, Professor of Physics and Dr. Thorne, Professor of Theoretical Physics

Gravitational waves

Gravitational waves are ripples curvature of spacetime which propagate as waves, travelling outward from source at the speed of light. Strongest sources of gravitational waves are among produced by catastrophic events such as colliding black holes.

Gravitational waves were first predicted in 1916 by Albert Einstein on basis of his Theory of General Relativity. They were detected  for by US LIGO laboratory in 2015. Since then three more examples have been detected.

Gravitational waves transport energy as gravitational radiation and pass through matter without interacting with it. Information extracted from gravitational waves may help to address unsolved questions and mysteries of physics and astronomy. ‎


LIGO is world’s largest gravitational wave observatory. ‎It comprises two enormous laser interferometers located thousands of kilometers apart. ‎It helps to detect and understand the origins of gravitational waves. The Interferometers used in LIGO work by merging two or more sources of light to create interference pattern, which can be measured and analyzed.

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