Gravitational Waves
Dr. Kip Thorne of Caltech (R) listens during a news conference to discuss the detection of gravitational waves, ripples in space and time hypothesized by physicist Albert Einstein a century ago, in Washington February 11, 2016. Reuters/Gary Cameron

Scientists led by Durham University's Institute for Computational Cosmology captured gravitational waves via space-based detectors, and now they believe that these waves can help identify the origins of supermassive black holes.

The scientist ran massive cosmological simulations that may be used to predict the rate at which gravitational waves caused by collisions between the monster black holes might be detected. Gargantuan black holes exist at the centre of most galaxies, including our galaxy Milky Way. They play a crucial role in formation of galaxies and their evolution.

The frequency and amplitude of the gravitational waves captured may reveal the initial mass of the seeds from which the first black holes formed. These were formed almost 13 billion years ago and may provide more clues regarding what caused them and where they were formed.

“Understanding more about gravitational waves means that we can study the Universe in an entirely different way. These waves are caused by massive collisions between objects with a mass far greater than our sun. By combining the detection of gravitational waves with simulations we could ultimately work out when and how the first seeds of supermassive black holes formed,” PhD student in Durham University’s Institute for Computational Cosmology and lead author, Jaime Salcido, said in the Durham University press release.

The scientist used data from two confirmed instances of gravitational waves and the fed them into a computer simulation known as the EAGLE project. Future gravitational wave observatories will detect the tiny ripples in the fabric of space-time as a result of violent cosmic events roughly twice a year.

The proposed Evolved Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (eLISA) mission will have three separate spacecrafts working in harmony and form a laser interferometer very much similar to the LIGO instruments that were responsible for initially detecting gravitational waves. The eLISA spacecraft is set to launch in 2034 and will orbit the sun in a triangular formation. It will form a vast interferometer, around 250,000 times larger than the Earth’s detectors.

The technology will detect lower frequency waves created by black hole collisions. The size of the black holes may be over a million times sun’s mass.