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Gravitational waves: how they sound and why scientists are going nuts

The confirmation of Einstein's gravitational waves has thrown the scientific community into paroxysms of joy.

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The sound of gravitational waves

Scientists around the world are so ecstatic at hearing the sound of two black holes colliding they begin to chirp.

Across the world, social media has buzzed with the sound of two massive black holes colliding; the aural imprint caused by the gravitational waves of this cataclysmic event 1.3 billion light years away.

The discovery was made at the advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) in the US. 

The Twitter hashtag #ChirpForLIGO has been flooded with astronomers imitating the sound.

The hashtag was started by University of Melbourne astrophysicist Katie Mack, known on Twitter as @AstroKatie.


Gravitational waves themselves don't make a sound as we know it, but their signature signal can be turned into audio. And it sounds like a long, low chirp finishing with a higher pitched crescendo.

Like this.

The gravitational wave "sound" of two black holes colliding was introduced to the world by Gabriela Gonzalez, a researcher at Louisiana State University, at the press conference announcing that scientists had observed the waves for the first time.

Dr Mack can be seen here chirping for LIGO with her colleagues at Monash University.

The #ChirpForLIGO has quickly gone viral

Even the head of Australia's consortium for LIGO, ANU professor David McClelland, has joined in the fun.

But some think that Carl Sagan beat us all to it while filming his epic Cosmos series in the 1980s.