For the last 15 years, the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves (NANOGrav) Physics Frontiers Center has been using radio telescopes supported by the National Science Foundation— including those operated by NSF’s National Radio Astronomy Observatory— to turn a suite of millisecond pulsars into a galaxy-scale gravitational-wave detector. Millisecond pulsars are remnants of extinguished massive stars; as they spin hundreds of times each second, their “lighthouse-like” radio beams are seen as highly regular pulses. Gravitational waves stretch and squeeze space and time in a characteristic pattern, causing changes in the intervals between these pulses that are correlated across all the pulsars being observed. These correlated changes are the specific signal that NANOGrav has been working to detect.
NANOGrav’s most recent dataset offers compelling evidence for gravitational waves with oscillations of years to decades. These waves are thought to arise from orbiting pairs of the most massive black holes throughout the Universe: billions of times more massive than the Sun, with sizes larger than the distance between the Earth and the Sun. Future studies of this signal will enable us to view the gravitational-wave universe through a new window, providing insight into titanic black holes merging in the hearts of distant galaxies and potentially other exotic sources of low-frequency gravitational waves.
A public event discussing the results will take place on Thursday, June 29, 2023 at 1pm Eastern Time on YouTube Live.
More News From Green Bank Telescope
New scientific results from the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), the Very Large Array (VLA), and the Green Bank Observatory (GBO) will be revealed at multiple press conferences during the 242nd meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) from June 5-7, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Scientists studying the supermassive black hole at the heart of the M87 galaxy have revealed the origins of the monster’s powerful jet and imaged the jet and its source together for the first time. What’s more, the observations have revealed that the black hole’s ring is much larger than scientists previously believed.
The formation of massive stars and planets. The deaths of stars and galaxies. The extreme and violent behaviors of black hole jets and quasars. An up-close and personal radar view of the Moon. These mysteries and more were unraveled in 2021 by radio astronomers leveraging the scientific and technological power of National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) facilities.
More News Related to Cosmology
Fast radio bursts are powerful flashes of light that shine for only milliseconds. Join our host Summer Ash of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory as she talks about how astronomers study these mysterious bursts, and what might be causing them.
Artificial lasers on Earth are used for everything from scanning grocery items to delicate surgery. But there are also naturally occurring lasers known as astrophysical masers. Join our host Summer Ash of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory as she talks about what these “space lasers” tell astronomers about the Universe.
The Universe is a dynamic and exciting place, with stars, planets, and galaxies being born, dying, and undergoing dramatic changes. In 2022, the telescopes of the National Science Foundation’s National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) revealed fascinating new details about several of these processes, and we’re giving you a taste of the greatest radio astronomy moments of the year.
While using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to study the masers around oddball star MWC 349A scientists discovered something unexpected: a previously unseen jet of material launching from the star’s gas disk at impossibly high speeds. What’s more, they believe the jet is caused by strong magnetic forces surrounding the star. The discovery could help researchers to understand the nature and evolution of massive stars and how hydrogen masers are formed in space. The new observations were presented today in a press conference at the 241st meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) in Seattle, Washington.