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 The accelerating expansion would have generated titanic gravitational waves that would have jostled matter in a way that would have imprinted B-modes among the primordial microwave radiation. Kenneth Chang, New York Times, 3 June 2024 But activities that will help sustain a human presence on the Moon, such as mining for water, will create vibrations that could ruin a gravitational wave telescope. Martin Elvis, The Conversation, 30 May 2024 The collisions of compact astrophysical objects such as black holes and neutron stars emit strong gravitational waves. Gaurav Khanna, Discover Magazine, 27 May 2024 In the future, gravitational wave observatories, like the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna that is expected to launch to space in the mid-2030s, could allow scientists to measure the ripples in spacetime emanating from the merging of these two black holes and other mergers from long ago. Will Sullivan, Smithsonian Magazine, 17 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for gravitational wave 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'gravitational wave.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1906, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of gravitational wave was in 1906

Dictionary Entries Near gravitational wave

Cite this Entry

“Gravitational wave.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Jun. 2024.

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