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Space-Warping White Dwarfs Produce Gravitational Waves

09/21/2012 06:10PM

Space-Warping White Dwarfs Produce Gravitational Waves

Gravitational waves, much like the recently discovered Higgs Boson, are notoriously difficult to observe. Scientists first detected these ripples in the fabric of space-time indirectly, using radio signals from a pulsar-neutron star binary system. The find, which required exquisitely accurate timing of the radio signals, garnered its discoverers a Nobel Prize. Now a team of astronomers has detected the same effect at optical wavelengths, in light from a pair of eclipsing white dwarf stars.


Comments:

  • bobguz [Robert Guzauskas]
  • 09/23/2012 04:02PM
How many unknowns can you count in this story?<br><br>BobGuz<br>

If the orbit has decayed by 6 seconds in one year, and the decay is expected to accelerate to a 20 second decay next year, with a current stated orbital period of 13 minutes how could the merger of the two stars be projected to be 2 million years from now? According to that decay rate it would seem the stars would merge in something like 20 years of less.<br><br>Is it possible that either the orbit period is presently 13 years or 13 hours (not minutes), or that the decay rate is in milli-seconds of decay per year with a current 13 minutes (or 13 hours?) orbital period as I suspect may be the case based upon the distances.<br><br>Please clarify,<br><br>Thanks.