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Gravitational Waves Essay

971 words - 4 pages

TheDetectionofGravitationalWaves, HowCloseAreWe?

Sincetherealizationthatthegeneraltheoryofrelativitypredictsgravitationalwave s, therehavebeenattemptstoactuallydetectthesewaves.Indirectobservationshavebeenmade thatsupporttheirexistencebutnodirectmeasurement.Thispapergivesabriefexplanationof gravitationalwavesanddiscussesthecurrentconditionoftheexperimentalsearchfor gravitationalwaves.Itdealswiththenewesttechniquesthatwillenabletheirdetection.The focusofthepaperisonthreeexperimentalgroups:LIGO,VIRGO,andLISA.Fromourresearc h ...view middle of the document...

Itisthefourthaxisoftimethatmake s spacetimedifficulttoconceptualize.Spacetimeisallaroundus.Itmaybehelpfultothinkofitas amediumthatencompasseseverything:earth,ourgalaxy,theuniverse,etc.Allplanets,suns, moonsand celestialbodiesare“submersed”inthismediumcalledspacetime.

Accordingtothegeneraltheoryofrelativitymassbendsspacetime.Largermassesbend space-timemorethansmallermasses,justasamoremassiveobjectwouldbendatrampoline morethanalessmassiveobject.IfthegridlinesinFigure1
representspacetimeitcanbeseenhowtheEarthbendsit.Objec ts thatapproachtheEarthwillbeaffectedbythiscurvaturear ound it.Specifically,anobjectwillbemovedtowardstheEarth.Thisis howgeneralrelativitypicturesgravity.
Asmentionedgravitationalwavesareperturbationsinthecurvatureofspacetime,andare createdbyacceleratedmasses.Asimilaroccurrencecanbeobservedwithwater.Asafishina bowlmovesaroundunderwateritproducesmovements,orwaves,inthewaterthatsprea d throughoutthebowl.Inthissamewayacceleratedmassesproducewavesinspacetime.These wavestravelthroughouttheuniverseaffectingspacetimeandothermasseswithinit.The magnitude,orstrength,ofthegravitationalwavesisdirectlyproportionaltoboththemassa nd theaccelerationofthatmass.Themagnitudeofthewavealsodependsonthedistanceittrave ls beforeitreachesus.Thefurtherittravelsthesmalleritsmagnitudewillbe.Itisthisfactthatha s madedetectionofthegravitationalwavesunsuccessfulinthepast.Itisdifficulttoundersta nd howagravitationalwaveaffectsmatter.Itisbesttoconsiderthewave'seffectonthespacetime aroundthe matter.Asthewavepassesthroughspacetimeitbendsit,andanymaterialinthe spacetimemustalsobend accordinglytomovewiththespacetime.Gravitationalwavestell spacetimehowtocurve,andspacetimein turntellsmatterhowtomove.
Thetheoreticalanalysisofgravitationalwavesisquitedifficultcomparedtothatofa waveonastringbecausetheyarenotone-dimensional.Gravitationalwaveshavecharacteristic s similartobothlongitudinalandtransversewaves.Thesetypesofwavesareeasilyunderstoodin

onedimensionbutbecomeextremelycomplicatedinmoredimensions.Gravitationalwavesare actuallyclassifiedasbothquadrupolartransverseandquadrupolarlongitudinalwaves.Propertie s ofthesekindsofwavesaredifficulttoconceptualize.Figure2explainshowgravitationalwave s havetransverseandlongitudinalcomponents.Theoreticallygravitationalwaves,likelight waves,canbepolarized,componentswithcertainorientationscouldbeabsorbedasthewave passes througha“polarizing”medium.Thismeansthatit
maybepossiblethatasthewavesmovethroughmatterin spacetime theymaybecomepolarizedbeforetheyreach Earth.Itwouldbe quitepossiblethat,ofthegravitational wavesthatreachEarth, manyarepolarizedindifferent ways.Gravitationalwavesarealso similarto...

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