How Can We Help?

What are Gravitational Waves?

You are here:
< All Topics

Ripples in Space-time

Gravitational Waves are ripples in the fabric of space-time.

  • All objects in the universe exist within the four-dimensional system of space-time (three dimensions of space and one dimension of time). However, it is easier to imagine it as a two-dimensional fabric sheet.
  • Very massive objects create distortions in (bend) the fabric of space time. Other objects respond to these distortions and follow the curves of space-time.
  • ‘Spacetime tells matter how to move; matter tells spacetime how to curve’ – John Archibald Wheeler

High Energy

Gravitational waves are the result of very energetic interactions in the universe

  • Large stellar remnants (such as black holes or neutron stars) orbit and spiral in toward each other and eventually coalesce, creating a large release of energy •
  • This energy is plentiful enough to create ripples in space-time, similar to how a rock colliding with the surface of the water will generate water ripples that travel away from the point of collision.
  • Gravitational waves travel at the speed of light. •
  • Gravitational waves have a particular size (amplitude) and shape depending on the properties of the objects that coalesced
Table of Contents