By Ian O’Neill, Discovery News | February 10, 2016 07:20am ET – Space.com
So it looks like we’ll be talking a lot about gravitational waves over the coming days, but why can’t they be called “gravity waves?” In this social media world where brevity is key, it may seem that chopping “gravitational” to “gravity” is no big deal — it saves a whole six characters for an even more concise tweet!
Though you’ll likely see many news headlines heralding the wonders of “gravity wave science,” do not fall into the trap! While both have gravity in common,gravity waves and gravitational waves are two very different beasts. Read on to find out why and then show off your gravitational smarts to your friends the next time you’re down the pub.
Gravitational Waves are, in their most basic sense, ripples in spacetime. Einstein’s theory of general relativity predicted them over a century ago and they are generated by the acceleration (or, indeed, deceleration) of massive objects in the cosmos. If a star explodes as a supernova, gravitational waves carry energy away from the detonation at the speed of light. If two black holes collide, they will cause these ripples in spacetime to propagate like ripples across the surface of a pond. If two neutron stars orbit each other very closely, energy is carried away from the system by — you guessed it — gravitational waves. If we could detect and observe these waves, … read more here
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