What do gravitational wave detectors measure? Diving into the intricacies of spacetime and black hole mergers

By Matilda Handsley-Davis
Updated March 15 2022 - 11:38pm, first published March 11 2022 - 7:00am
Artist's impression of gravitational waves. Picture: Shutterstock.

What are the gravitational wave detectors actually recording? Seems like a nonsensical question at first. LIGO and the follow on detectors are nothing short of remarkable, both in their engineering and their science discoveries. I just do not understand the moment they are recording. My question in more detail is this, are the waves of blackhole mergers that they are detecting from the moment the two event horizons impact/merge or from when the masses at the centre of the blackholes are merging?

- Asked by Marco.

What do gravitational wave detectors measure?

For those of us who skipped high school physics, let's start at the beginning: what is a gravitational wave?

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