Giant collisions shake the cosmos

Giant collisions shake the cosmos
Goodard Space Flight Center/NASA
Scientists have sparked a revolution in astronomy by figuring out how to observe gravitational waves with the help of new technology involving lasers and mirrors.

In 1608, the German-Dutch lensmaker Hans Lippershey became the first person to apply for a patent for what we now call the telescope. By combining two lenses, he found that he could make distant objects appear closer than they are. While some lauded the invention for its military applications, Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei turned the telescope to the heavens and opened a new eye on the cosmos. His observations overturned the existing astronomical beliefs of his time.

Indeed, whenever a new instrument capable of studying the heavens has been invented, astronomers have had to rethink their understanding of the cosmos. Most recently, scientists have sparked a revolution in astronomy by figuring out how to observe gravitational waves with the help of new technology involving lasers and mirrors.

Black holes are the husks of massive stars with gravity so strong that not even light can escape from them. When they collide, they release energy in a form called gravitational waves. The collisions, which are entirely invisible to the naked eye and do not register on the electromagnetic spectrum, can be detected only by observing gravitational waves. While Albert Einstein