In physics, gravitational waves are ripples in the curvature of spacetime which propagate as waves, travelling outward from the source.
Predicted in 1916 by Albert Einstein on the basis of his theory of general relativity, gravitational waves transport energy as gravitational radiation.
The existence of gravitational waves is a possible consequence of the Lorentz invariance of general relativity since it brings the concept of a limiting speed of propagation of the physical interactions with it.
By contrast, gravitational waves cannot exist in the Newtonian theory of gravitation, which postulates that physical interactions propagate at infinite speed.
Before the direct detection of gravitational waves, there was indirect evidence for their existence.
For example, measurements of the Hulse–Taylor binary system suggested that gravitational waves are more than a hypothetical concept.
Potential sources of detectable gravitational waves include binary star systems composed of white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes. Various gravitational-wave detectors are under construction or in operation, such as Advanced LIGO which began observations in September 2015.
On February 11, 2016, the LIGO experiment team announced that they had directly detected gravitational waves from a pair of black holes merging.
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