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Gravity Wave Detector Is Galactic Sized


Detecting gravity waves isn’t easy. But what if you had a really big detector for a long time? That’s what researchers did when they crunched 15 years’ worth of data from the NANOGrav data set. The data was collected from over 170 radio astronomers measuring millisecond pulsars as a way to potentially detect low-frequency gravity waves.

Millisecond pulsars spin fast and make them ideal for the detection of low-frequency gravity waves, which are difficult to detect. The bulk of the paper is about the high-powered data analysis for a very large data set.

The NANOGrav data set 75 covers 68 pulsars collected from 2004 to 2020. Instruments included the Arecibo Observatory (Arecibo), the Green Bank Telescope (GBT), and the Very Large Array (VLA). There was also additional data taken from existing sources.

Other than being an interesting piece of science, there probably isn’t much hacking going on in the area of sub-Hertz gravity wave detection. But we think if you can follow the hairy math in this paper, it might give you some tricks for fitting observed data to models. We think.

The trick here isn’t detecting just any old gravity waves, but the low-frequency kind. Even the ordinary dections take some advanced engineering.


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