Ripples in the fabric of the universe may reveal the beginning of time

Ripples in the fabric of the universe may reveal the beginning of time

Numerical simulation of neutron stars merging to form a black hole, with their accretion disks interacting to produce electromagnetic waves. Credit: L. Rezolla (AEI) and M. Koppitz (AEI and Zuse-Institut Berlin)

Scientists have made progress in discovering how to use ripples in space-time known as gravitational waves to look back to the beginning of everything we know. Researchers say they can better understand the state of the cosmos shortly after the Big Bang by learning how these ripples in the fabric of the universe flow through planets and the gas between galaxies.

“We can’t see the early universe directly, but maybe we can see it indirectly by looking at how gravitational waves from that time affected the matter and radiation we can see today,” said Deepen Garg, lead author of a reporting works. the results in Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics. Garg is a graduate student in the Princeton Program in Plasma Physics, which is based at the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL).

Garg and his advisor Ilya Dodin, who is affiliated with both Princeton University and PPPL, adapted this technique from their research on fusion energy, the process that powers the sun and stars that scientists develop to create electricity on Earth without emitting greenhouse gases or producing long time. -live radioactive waste. Fusion scientists calculate how electromagnetic waves move through plasma, the soup of electrons and atomic nuclei that power fusion facilities known as tokamaks and stellarators.

It turns out that this process resembles the movement of gravitational waves through matter. “We basically put plasma wave machines to work on a gravitational wave problem,” Garg said.

Gravitational waves, first predicted by Albert Einstein in 1916 as a consequence of his theory of relativity, are disturbances in spacetime caused by the motion of very dense objects. They travel at the speed of light and were first detected in 2015 by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) using detectors in Washington state and Louisiana.

Garg and Dodin created formulas that could theoretically lead gravitational waves to reveal hidden properties about celestial bodies, such as stars many light years away. As the waves flow through matter, they create light whose characteristics depend on the density of the matter.

A physicist could analyze that light and discover properties about a star millions of light years away. This technique could also lead to discoveries about collapsing neutron stars and black holes, the ultra-dense remnants of dead stars. They might even reveal information about what happened during the Big Bang and the earliest moments of our universe.

The research began with no idea of ​​how important it could become. “I thought this would be a small, six-month project for a graduate student that would involve solving something simple,” Dodin said. “But once we started digging into the subject, we realized that very little was understood about the problem and that we could make a basic theory here.”

The scientists now plan to use the technique to analyze the data in the near future. “We have some formulas now, but getting meaningful results will require more work,” Garg said.

More information:
Deepen Garg et al, Gravitational wave modes in matter, Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics (2022). DOI: 10.1088/1475-7516/2022/08/017

Provided by Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

Citation: Ripples in the Fabric of the Universe May Reveal the Beginning of Time (2023 January 20) Retrieved January 20, 2023 from

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