Finding Hints of Gravitational Waves in the Stars

Energetic events, such as this artist’s rendition of a binary-star merger, are thought to create gravitational waves that cause ripples in space and time.  ©NASA

Energetic events, such as this artist’s rendition of a binary-star merger, are thought to create gravitational waves that cause ripples in space and time. 

©NASA


Scientists have shown how gravitational waves—invisible ripples in the fabric of space and time that propagate through the universe—might be “seen” by looking at the stars. The new model proposes that a star that oscillates at the same frequency as a gravitational wave will absorb energy from that wave and brighten, an overlooked prediction of Einstein’s 1916 theory of general relativity. The study, which was published today in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters, contradicts previous assumptions about the behavior of gravitational waves.