Physics News of the Week: On New Methods of Detecting Black Holes and Gravitational Waves

| May 19, 2013 | 0 Comments

So another great week has passed and it’s time to take a look at some of the most important physics news. This week a group of US researchers found new clues on what could signal the birth of black holes. Meanwhile the researchers from the Centre for Quantum Technologies at the National University of Singapore tackled the question of why the nature is quantum. Finally, scientists at the University of Nevada, Reno and Stanford University came up with a new device to detect gravitational waves. As always, if you would like to receive these news and other useful stuff straight to your email, register to our email newsletter here.

1. Cosmic Flashes Could Signal the Birth of Black Holes (May 13)

According to researchers at the California Institute of Technology, the birth of massive black holes could be signaled by a characteristic cosmic flash. For a long time it was believed that only the most massive black holes emitted gamma-ray bursts, but now, according to the work of the researchers, it is thought that smaller black holes could also emit their own cosmic flashes.

In a previous study astronomers Elizabeth Lovegrove and Stan Woosley had predicted that a shockwave emitted by dying stars would heat up the gaseous envelope, producing a characteristic glow that would act as a potential signal of the birth of a black hole. The problem with such as signal, however, is that it would be relatively dim compared to the light from the neighbor stars. However, in his recent study, Tony Piro from Caltech has identified another signal that should be easier to detect from the Earth – an initial flash generated by the shockwave as it hits the star’s outer layers. More about this discovery here.

2. A New Principle to Explain the Quantum Nature of our Universe (May 14)

One of the hardest questions is why the nature is the way it is. In particular, why does quantum mechanics rather than some other theory plays such an important role in nature? Now a group of scientists from the National University of Singapore decided to tackle this question in their new paper. In particular, they approached the problem by imagining all the theories one could possibly come up with to describe nature, and then work out what principles help to single out quantum physics. A good guess for such a principle would be that a measurement yields no information, then the system being measured has not been disturbed. More about this approach here.

3. A New Method to Detect Gravitational Waves (May 16)

Scientists at the University of Nevada, Reno and Stanford University came up with a new method of detecting gravitational waves. Their device, which is described in the new paper at Physical Review letters, is expected to offer higher sensitivity. “Our detector is complementary to existing gravitational wave detectors, in that it is more sensitive to sources in a higher frequency band, so we could see signals that other detectors might potentially miss,” said Andrew Geraci from the University of Nevada, Reno.  For more, read the full report here.

More news:

IceCube Neutrino Observatory Reports First Evidence for Extraterrestrial High-Energy Neutrinos
New Tool Has Potential for Brain Mapping
Superfluids: Observation of ‘Second Sound’ in a Quantum Gas



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