China Probing Spacetime in Tibet's Himalayas --Constructing What Could Become the World's Top Gravitational-Wave-Telescope Complex
China constructing world's highest altitude gravitational-wave observatory in Tibet, 5,250 meters above sea level near the Line of Actual Control with India which will help Beijing gather data on primordial gravitational waves in the Northern Hemisphere. Yao Yongqiang chief researcher with the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said the telescope has been code-named Ngari No 1. The second phase will have a series of telescopes placed about 6,000 meters above sea level. The first telescope is expected to be running by 2021.
With its high altitude, clear sky and minimal human activity Ngari is said to be one of the world's best spots to detect the ripples in spacetime in cosmic light. Yao said the Ngari observatory will be among the world's top primordial gravitational wave observation bases, alongside the South Pole Telescope and the facility in Chile's Atacama Desert.
The project was initiated by the Institute of High Energy Physics, National Astronomical Observatories, and Shanghai Institute of Microsystem and Information Technology.
Gravitational waves, first predicted by Albert Einstein in 1916, are ripples in the curvature of space-time, which is the very fabric of the universe. These waves are actual physical ripples that move away from each other and closer together, thus stretching and squeezing the space they exist in.
However, it was only in February 2016 that Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory scientists established the existence of gravitational waves with their first detection.
The discovery of ripples in space-time — gravitational waves — shook the scientific world this year," Science reporter Adrian Cho wrote in an article about LIGO explaining why the research earned the Science magazine's top honor. "But instead of the end of the story, scientists see the discovery as the birth of a new field: gravitational wave astronomy."
Science magazine bestowed its 2016 Breakthrough of the Year Award upon the collaboration of scientists who built and operate the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO), the journal announced today (Dec. 22). This is one of many awards and recognitions that the collaboration and its scientists have already won.
“When we get this new window on the universe, history and experience has shown us that we find something totally different, something totally unexpected," said Perimeter Institute for Theorectical Physics faculty member, Avery Broderick. "This has happened over and over again in astronomy, where we’ve opened up windows in the X-ray and the radio, and we see a totally different universe,” Broderick said. “I would be shocked if we don’t see the same thing when we look with gravitational eyes, and see the gravitational wave universe as totally different. This is going to be absolutely critical to understanding how the dark universe and the light universe fit together.”