Scientists announced Thursday the first ever observation of ripples in space-time known as gravitational waves, confirming a key part of Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity.
The waves came from a cataclysmic event, the merger of two black holes, many light-years away.
In theory, gravitational waves resound from enormous objects moving through the universe.
If true, the research would mark one of the most important scientific discoveries in recent years.
In performing the research, scientists from the large international group of researchers that comprise the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) Scientific Collaboration, also observed two black holes merging into one for the first time ever, an event that has been theorized but never seen.
The collision occurred approximately 1.3 billion years ago, but was first identified o Sept. 14, 2015, by LIGO detectors in the states of Louisiana and Washington.
“It is incredibly exciting to see the deep connections between theory and observation," said researcher Carlos Lousto, who also devised an important algorithm in 2006 to predict gravity wave. “This is the holy grail of science. To confirm amazing predictions of general relativity is a dream come true. We have witnessed a historic event, the confirmation of the 100-year-old predictions of Einstein regarding gravitational waves and our 10-year-old computation of the merger of two black holes in a single event.”
Einstein’s groundbreaking theory of relativity famously changed how scientists could perceive the universe by linking the dimensions of space and time, which were previously thought to be two very distinct entities.
Gravitational waves undulate through this fabric of space-time at the speed of light when giant objects move through the universe, like the two black holes LIGO detected, which were roughly 29 and 36 times the mass of the sun.
The discovery, published in the journal Physical Review Letters, will face the scrutiny of many scientists in the months to come.