This antenna could prove general relativity correct by detecting gravitational waves.

There’s a ton of stuff going on literally above your head. Think of it: stars, planets and even exoplanets, black holes, neutron stars, cosmic dwarfs, and who know what else in the vast emptiness of space. However, none of these things will never hit your head here on Earth due to a weird physical phenomenon known as gravity. Of course, this is what’s keeping you here on Earth and not flying away. Truth or albeit false, gravity could be a gimmick awaiting proof or debunk.

The theory of general relativity does not proof gravity to be a force, but in a sense, it has shaped our understanding of the role it plays in the Universe. In a recent study, researchers predict that they will be able to detect new fundamental fields using the new space interferometer, dubbed LISA, to prove the unprecedented accuracy of gravitational waves.

Related media: Why Gravitational Waves Are A Big Deal

Whence Cometh Gravity?

The recent study which was published as a letter in the journal Nature Astronomy, featured the work by led researcher Andrea Maselli from Gran Sasso Science Institute (GSSI), together with colleague researchers from Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati (SISSA), University of Nottingham, and La Sapienza of Rome.

Their study suggests answers to questions of how the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) — a space-based gravitational wave detector yet to be launched by both the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the European Space Agency (ESA) in 2037. Here’s the multi-million dollar question: can gravity detect new fundamental fields of physics? Or would general relativity prove correct or debunked?

For decades, new fundamental fields — particularly scalars — have been brought forth in a myriad of scenarios. There’s been claims of dark matter and energy as the cause of the accelerated expansion of the Universe. Or perhaps, the low-energy manifestation of a consistent and complete description of gravity and elementary particles.

Where Are Gravitational Waves?

There’s been several observations of cosmic objects with weaker gravitational fields and smaller spacetime curvature. And there is little to no evidence of such fields so far so good. However, researchers believe that deviations from general relativity or even the interactions between gravity and new fields, could shed light at detecting gravitational waves.

In respect to this, the detection of gravitational waves posits a new frontier that could detect these fields. This is another new novel window seeking to prove the general relativity. LISA hopes to target extreme mass ratio inspirals (EMRI) — a sort of compact stellar mass object of either a black hole or neutron star — that turns into a black hole of a million times massive than the sun. These will usher in a new window into the strong-field regime of gravity.

On the other hand, smaller bodies perform tens of thousands of orbital cycles per second before coalescing into a supermassive black hole. These are the signals that allows researchers to detect even the subtle deviations from the predictions of general relativity and standard model of particle physics.

Source: Nature Astronomy

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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Mon, Mar 07, 2022.


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