Scientists have finally proved space time ripples predicated by Albert Einstein exist after almost 100 years of work.
Hailed as one of the most important breakthroughs ever in science, the discovery is the dawn of a new era of gravitational astronomy.
Einstein mooted the gravitational waves existed in space as part of his General Theory of Relativity in 1915.
He argued that large bodies in space such as planets and stars have so much mass that space and time bends around them.
Scientists have announced that they have detected these ripples after the collision of two black holes.
First proof of black holes
Not only does the discovery prove Einstein right, but this is the first confirmation black holes exist as well.
Gravitational astronomy is so important because more than 95% of the universe is dark matter that is invisible to the eye, but by resetting equipment to detect the ripples, astronomers will be able to map space more effectively.
Calibrating instruments to see gravitational forces will help identify where dark matter objects sit in space and help determine their size and mass.
The discovery was confirmed by a team at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Laboratory in Washington, although scientists form all over the world have contributed to the research.
“This is a huge step forward for science,” said Professor Sheila Rowan, Director of the University of Glasgow’s Institute for Gravitational Research.
Space time ripples
“It seems quite apt that the discovery should be made when we are celebrating the centenary of Einstein publishing his work.
“These waves come from a collision that took place in deep space 1.5 billion years ago. Not only will this discovery help us look forward, but we can also look back towards the start of time and maybe capture the moment when the universe was born.”
The ripples were detected by an interferometer, which splits laser beams and transmits them at right angles to each other. They should travel the same distance to a mirror and reflect back, but if a gravitational wave passes through one, the speed and distance is disrupted.
The waves are not new, they have always been in space but by the time they reach Earth they are difficult to record and only comparatively recently have scientists had equipment sensitive enough to detect them.