Exclusive: Grave Doubts Over LIGO’s Discovery Of Gravitational Waves

Back in early 2016, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory or LIGO, in collaboration with Virgo Scientific announced the discovery of gravitational waves for the first time. They observed them initially in September 2015, but scientists took the time to confirm the development. Subsequently, in 2017, LIGO again announced the discovery of gravitational waves on more than one occasion resulting from the merging of black holes and binary neutron stars, respectively. Since then, it has made a total of 5 detections of squeezing and stretching of time and space. There was rejoicing in the scientific community that things have happened in line with the rhythmic stretching and squeezing of time and space in accordance with Einstein’s general theory of relativity. The Nobel Prize was also awarded to the scientists for their work. However, now it emerges that all those detections might have been flawed.

The Naysayers

A group of scientists, known as Jackson’s group, from Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark, have cast serious doubts over the interpretation of findings of LEGO. They did a press conference to declare their skepticism. They wanted to have a close look at things. 

The claim that these scientists are making is not very ill-founded. Though these researchers are not keen on working on gravitational waves, they do have a wealth of expertise in the analysis of signals. They had experience in working with astronomical data sets, too, such as the afterglow of big bang spreading exquisite patterns across the sky, discovery of cosmic microwave background radiation, etc. All these are credible people, and such people raising severe doubts over LIGO’s findings is a serious concern. 

What Are Gravitational Waves And How To Detect Them

The collision of massive celestial bodies such as neutron stars and black holes produce gravitational waves. These waves continue to travel through billions of years and, in the process, alternately squeeze and stretch space-time. However, they spread out and got weaker with time. And their discovery is possible only with the super-sensitive instrument which they placed at different corners of the earth. 

The Problem With Detection

However, noise is a big problem in detecting gravitational waves. This is why there are several detectors at different places of the earth. If the waves are detected at all the detection points with an exact interval of time, the standard signal, i.e., noise, can be subtracted to find out the residual signal. This is how LIGO had planned extracting gravitational waves. 

However, when scientists from Niels Bohr Institute, Denmark, looked at the dataset from those detections, It did not convince them. They printed out graphs of two raw signals and tried to correlate them by holding one on top of another. They also had the underlying data that researchers in LIGO had published. These scientists calculated the results and checked them again and again. They concluded that LIGO scientists didn’t a separate signal from noise. This team of scientists posted their findings online but got no response from LIGO.

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