For past several weeks, a rumor has spread around the Internet that scientists with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (also known as LIGO) have spotted gravitational waves. Gravitational waves are ripples in cosmos itself set off by intense astrophysical events. Especially, rumor has it that LIGO physicists have most likely observed two gigantic black holes spiraling into each other and merging. But for now, an email message that actually ended up on Twitter provides some precise numbers to those rumors.
The LIGO facility in Livingston, Louisiana, has a twin in Hanford, Washington.
According to Burgess's email, LIGO scientists have spotted two black holes, of nearly 29 and 36 solar masses, spinning together and merging. The statistical worth of the signal is apparently very high, beyond the "five-sigma" standard that physicists use to differentiate proof strong enough to claim discovery.
LIGO contains two gargantuan optical tools called interferometers, which physicists use to look for the almost infinitesimal stretching of space produced by a passing gravitational wave. According to Burgess's email, both sensors spotted the black hole merger with the right time interruption between them.
So far it is just a speculation until the LIGO team actually declares its newest results—which according to Burgess's rumor could occur next week. Burgess says “If this is true, then you have 90% odds that it will win the Nobel Prize in Physics this year. It's off-the-scale huge."
About the email, Burgess says he forwarded it to the whole McMaster physics department to alert his coworkers and specifically students of what might be coming: "It's one of those big events where the students may be a little bored by what they are doing in class but they may be excited by this."