Scientists may have found the gravitational waves that make up some of the universe’s background, but not only those coming from unusual events like black hole collisions.
New Atlas report says that the NANOGrav research team discovered a strong signal that could represent the gravitational wave background, I mean the waves from supermassive black hole mergers across the cosmos.
Scientists didn’t go for detecting the waves directly, they’ve been looking for the effects of those waves on pulsars, whose light patterns are mostly consistent over long periods.
They looked at as many pulsars as possible (45 so far) for as long as possible (at least three years) and noticed a common process that appeared to skew the collective timing by hundreds of nanoseconds.
Scientists will want to verify the data with more pulsars and longer studies, and that could take years because they surely will not end the research at the point where they are now.
In the event that this does represent background gravitational waves, it could help reveal the sources of those waves and, by effect show how these ‘hidden’ forces shape the entire universe.