Einstein was right! 100 years after Einstein's prediction, scientists, 14 of which backed by EU funding, observed ripples in the fabric of spacetime called gravitational waves, arriving at the earth from a cataclysmic event in the distant universe. This confirms Albert Einstein's theory of relativity and opens an unprecedented new window onto the cosmos.
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Nine of the fourteen early stage researchers supported by the EU Marie Skłodowska Curie actions who worked in the team behind the Gravitational Wave direct detection were directly involved in this discovery.
The GraWIToN project, a Marie Curie Initial Training Network, is coordinated by the European Gravitational Observatory (EGO) and involves young researchers directly into the data analysis which lead to the discovery and to the development of the advanced technologies needed to their upgrade.
Physicists have concluded that the detected gravitational waves were produced during the final fraction of a second of the merger of two black holes to produce a single, more massive spinning black hole. This collision of two black holes had been predicted but never observed.
This discovery is the culmination of decades of effort by scientists and engineers with very high credentials. For a long time LIGO (the USA Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory) detected nothing. But it went through an upgrade, which dramatically boosted its sensitivity, and came fully on line again a few months ago. It has now proved sensitive enough to detect pulses of gravitational waves which it did in September 2015.
The detection of these waves is now a reality and astronomers have a very powerful new tool for studying the universe. Gravitational waves will join the myriad types of light, plus some particles like neutrinos, that scientists already use to probe the far reaches of the universe. European detectors (one of them, the Advanced VIRGO in Italy) are joining the search, and these discoveries will stimulate wider efforts to exploit this fundamentally new channel of information about cosmic phenomena.