Introduction to LIGO & Gravitational Waves

Burst Gravitational Waves


Burst gravitational waves come from short-duration unknown or unanticipated sources—they are the gravitational waves that go bump in the night. Every time humans have looked at the universe with a new set of 'eyes' (for instance, using telescopes to look at visible light or radio waves, or gamma ray detectors to view gamma rays) they have found things that were unexpected and revolutionized our understanding of the universe.  Therefore, in burst gravitational waves we are expecting the unexpected.  There are hypotheses that some systems such as supernovae or gamma ray bursts may produce burst gravitational waves, but too little is known about the details of these systems to anticipate the form these waves will have.  The sounds these gravitational waves are expected to produce are ‘pops’ and ‘crackles’ (it is difficult to say since very little can be assumed of their origin). 

An example signal from an burst gravitational wave source. [Image: A. Stuver/LIGO using data from C. Ott, D. Burrows, et al.]
Example Burst Waveform

Listen to this burst signal.

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