gravitational wave

noun

Definition of gravitational wave

: a disturbance in space-time in the form of a wave that propagates the gravitational field Gravitational waves are a natural offshoot of the rubber-sheet construction of general relativity. Just as a massive object sitting on the fabric of spacetime creates a dimple, so moving or changing objects, under certain conditions, create wrinkles in the fabric. Those wrinkles, tiny distortions in spacetime, zoom away at the speed of light. Because these gravitational waves carry energy, anything emitting them will lose a tiny bit of its speed.Science

Examples of gravitational wave in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In the last few years, however, gravitational wave astronomy has made great strides in detecting gravitational radiation rippling through spacetime at the speed of light. Bruce Dorminey, Forbes, 10 Nov. 2021 A year later, Europe’s Virgo gravitational wave detector in Italy joined the hunt and within days, the three detectors had spotted two neutron stars twirling together. Adrian Cho, Science | AAAS, 29 June 2021 In the study, the researchers take a closer look at GW150914, the first gravitational wave signal detected by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) in 2015. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, 21 July 2021 In contrast, European physicists envision a single subterranean gravitational wave observatory, called the Einstein Telescope (ET), that would do it all. Adrian Cho, Science | AAAS, 10 Mar. 2021 After months of analysis, the team was able to determine that the first gravitational wave signal corresponded to an object with a mass 9 times that of our sun, or 9 solar masses, colliding with an object of 1.9 solar masses. Brittany Trang, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 30 June 2021 More gravitational wave signals may be pulled from the detectors' latest observational period. Ashley Strickland, CNN, 2 Sep. 2020 The frequency of the gravitational wave tells you the total mass of the system. Steve Nadis, Wired, 23 May 2021 The first task in any gravitational wave detection is to try to extract a weak signal from that noise. Steve Nadis, Wired, 23 May 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'gravitational wave.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of gravitational wave

1906, in the meaning defined above

Learn More About gravitational wave

Time Traveler for gravitational wave

Time Traveler

The first known use of gravitational wave was in 1906

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near gravitational wave

gravitational water

gravitational wave

gravitino

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for gravitational wave

Cite this Entry

“Gravitational wave.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gravitational%20wave. Accessed 24 Jan. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on gravitational wave

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about gravitational wave

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!