gravitational wave


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

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These amplified gravitational waves would leave their imprint on the polarization of the cosmic microwave background. Alexander Hellemans, Scientific American, "A Conversation with Thomas Hertog, One of Stephen Hawking’s Final Collaborators," 24 May 2018 Over that time, gravitational waves with frequencies between 30 and 300Hz were detected. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "LISA pathfinder mission a glorious success," 12 Feb. 2018 Now, gravitational waves have been indirectly detected before. William Herkewitz, Popular Mechanics, "At Long Last, Scientists Say They Have Confirmed Gravitational Waves," 11 Feb. 2016 Huerta previously used machine learning on a supercomputer called Blue Waters to detect signs of gravitational waves in data from the LIGO observatory that won its founders the 2017 Nobel Prize in physics. Tom Simonite, WIRED, "The US Again Has World’s Most Powerful Supercomputer," 8 June 2018 Researchers compared the breakthrough to the 2017 detection of ripples in space time caused by colliding dead stars, which added gravitational waves to scientists' toolbox for observing the cosmos. Sarah Kaplan,, "In a cosmic first, scientists detect 'ghost particles' from a distant galaxy," 12 July 2018 The discovery heralds the next step in what scientists call multi-messenger astronomy, which probes the cosmos with telescopes working across different wavelengths and now with detectors of gravitational waves as well. Robert Lee Hotz, WSJ, "Scientists Track Neutrinos Through Ice to Their Source in the Cosmos," 12 July 2018 Hailey notes that the find also has implications for scientists studying gravitational waves, the ripples in space-time created by powerful cosmic events, like when massive objects collide. National Geographic, "Thousands of Black Holes May Lurk at the Galaxy's Center," 4 Apr. 2018 In the past few years, gravitational waves have been detected for the first time: ripples in the fabric of space, coming from colliding black holes and neutron stars. John Gribbin, WSJ, "‘The Ascent of Gravity’ and ‘On Gravity’ Review: From Falling Apples to Black Holes," 11 May 2018

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.

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First Known Use of gravitational wave

1906, in the meaning defined above

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28 Sep 2018

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The first known use of gravitational wave was in 1906

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