New gravitational wave detector picks up possible signal from the beginning of time


Gravitational waves are giant ripples in the fabric of space-time. (Image credit: Shutterstock)

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Two intriguing signals spotted in a small gravitational-wave detector could represent all kinds of exotic phenomena — from new physics to dark matter interacting with black holes to vibrations from near the beginning of the universe. But, because of the experiment’s novelty, researchers are being cautious about claiming a discovery of any kind. 

Facilities such as the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) use gigantic laser-driven detectors to look for enormous ripples in the fabric of space-time known as gravitational waves. These come from the collisions of black holes and neutron stars out in the distant universe, which are events so powerful they shake space-time and send out surges with wavelengths measured in hundreds of miles.

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