In Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity, he believed gravitational waves existed in the universe -- and a team of scientists just proved he was right.
Gravitational waves are ripples in space-time, of which Einstein proposed existed in 1916. A century later, the final part of his general theory of relativity left to be proved has been.
A team of physicists heard and recorded gravitational waves coming from two black holes 1.3 billion lights years from Earth, Reuters reports. The black holes orbited one another, spiraled inward, and then smashed together. The waves were created by the collision.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we have detected gravitational waves. We did it," said California Institute of Technology physicist David Reitze at a news conference.
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"It's been a very long road, but this is just the beginning," Louisiana State University physicist Gabriela Gonzalez said at the news conference.
A pair of giant laser detectors -- one in Louisiana, the other in Washington -- were used to make the scientific discovery. They are known as the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory and work in unison.
"The colliding black holes that produced these gravitational waves created a violent storm in the fabric of space and time, a storm in which time speeded up, and slowed down, and speeded up again, a storm in which the shape of space was bent in this way and that way," Caltech physicist Kip Thorne said.
The vibrations of the gravitational waves were converted to audio and the scientists were able to listen to the sounds of the two black holes merging.
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"We're actually hearing them go thump in the night," Massachusetts Institute of Technology physicist Matthew Evans said. "We're getting a signal which arrives at Earth, and we can put it on a speaker, and we can hear these black holes go, 'Whoop.' There's a very visceral connection to this observation."
The gravitational waves were first detected on Sept. 14, 2015.
“Everything else in astronomy is like the eye,” Szabolcs Marka, a Columbia University professor who is one of the LIGO scientists, said, reports The New York Times. “Finally, astronomy grew ears. We never had ears before.”