Gravitational Waves

“Gravitational Waves” is an attractive and informative introduction to gravitational wave astronomy for high school and college undergraduate students. The poster invites the reader to learn how gravitational waves can teach us about our universe and describes how scientists are looking for these elusive waves.

Why Look for Gravitational Waves?

Gravitational waves are signals from distant objects in the universe that can travel vast distances. Unlike light waves, gravitational waves are not blocked or altered by interactions with matter in the universe. Scientists hope gravitational waves will tell us what happens when massive stars collide or explode; and possibly even about the origins of our universe.

How Do We Look for Gravitational Waves?

Scientists look for gravitational waves using enormous detectors that have two perpendicular arms. A passing gravitational wave will slightly increase the length of one arm while decreasing the other, and finely tuned lasers will pick up these distortions.

The US’s Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) is the world’s largest gravitational wave detector, with sites in Hanford, Washington and Livingston, Louisiana.

Want to Know More?

"Gravitational Waves" Poster
Explanations of gravitational waves are interspersed with clear, detailed graphs and images.
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Introduction to LIGO and Gravitational Waves - the LIGO project’s website for the public
Gray Arrow Introduction to LIGO and Gravitational Waves

Feature from APS’s public outreach website
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Gray Arrow First Detection of Elusive Gravitational Waves

A project supported by APS and LIGO to use idle time from computers around the world to aid the search for gravitational waves
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NASA’s Imagine the Universe
On the Edge: Gravitational Waves - a NASA page intended for students in high school and up
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Einstein Online
Gravitational Waves - published by the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute) in Potsdam, Germany
Gray Arrow Gravitational Waves - Einstein Online