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Word of the week: Gravitational wave

This week’s Word of the Week is linked to the exciting news announced by the team of BICEP2 on Monday, announcing the evidence of gravitational waves in the Cosmic Microwave Background, which supports the theory of the Big Bang and the inflation of the Universe. So what are gravitational waves? SKA Project Scientist Jeff Wagg explains:

Gravitational Waves

Gravitational Waves – The key to unlocking a great scientific mystery

“It’s basically a ripple propagating through the fabric of space-time, which can be caused by a massive object. They were postulated by Einstein in 1916. Whereas the team of BICEP2 detected the effect of a gravitational wave imprinted in the Cosmic Microwave Background in the first instants of the Universe, the SKA will aim to detect their effects on cosmic objects in the nearby Universe by studying pulsars in our galaxy. Pulsars are the fast spinning remnants of supernova explosions. They emit beams of radiation at very precise intervals which can be observed and precisely timed by telescopes like the SKA. Gravitational waves are believed to cause tiny variations in the timing of these beams which we aim to detect thanks to the SKA’s sensitivity.”

Read more on this key science goal of the SKA here.

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