Bending spacetime

Light is detected

No light is detected

How the Ligo system works

Mirror

Detector

building

Laser beam

4

Recombined, they cancel each other out

3

Back inside the detector, the laser beams arrive perfectly aligned

2

Mirrors reflect the twin beams back to a detector

1

A single laser beam is split and directed down two identical tubes, 4km long

 

Detecting gravity waves

3

The recombined waves no longer cancel each other out. Light reaches the detector and the gravity wave can be measured

2

As the distances fluctuate the peaks and troughs of the two returning laser beams move in and out of alignment

1

When spacetime is distorted by a gravity wave, the two tubes change length. One tube stretches as the other contracts over and over until the wave has passed

Spacetime

What is a gravity wave?

 

Rippling out from a supermassive collision, for example between two black holes, gravity waves could be detected through the stretching and contracting of space and time

Light is detected

No light is detected

Spacetime

Detecting gravity waves

3

The recombined waves no longer cancel each other out. Light reaches the detector and the gravity wave can be measured

2

As the distances fluctuate the peaks and troughs of the two returning laser beams move in and out of alignment

1

When spacetime is distorted by a gravity wave, the two tubes change length. One tube stretches as the other contracts over and over until the wave has passed

How the Ligo system works

Mirror

Detector

building

Laser beam

4

Recombined, they cancel each other out

3

Back inside the detector, the laser beams arrive perfectly aligned

2

Mirrors reflect the twin beams back to a detector

1

A single laser beam is split and directed down two identical tubes, 4km long

 

What is a gravity wave?

 

Rippling out from a super- massive collision, for example between two black holes, gravity waves could be detected through the stretching and contracting of space and time