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LIGO plans big reveal about gravitational waves

Image: Gravitational waves
This visualization shows gravitational waves produced by two orbiting black holes. (Credit: NASA)

It looks as if scientists have chosen Thursday as the day to announce a potentially Nobel Prize-winning discovery: the first detection of gravitational waves, a century after they were predicted by Albert Einstein.

After months of rumors, simultaneous events have been scheduled for 7:30 a.m. PT in Washington, D.C., as well as in Italy, in Britain – and at Hanford, Wash., where one of the detectors for the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory was built a decade and a half ago.

Since then, researchers using the Hanford detector and its twin in Livingston, La., have been looking for the ripples in spacetime created by violent clashes in the distant universe – for example, mergers of two black holes, collisions of neutron stars or the flare-up of supernovae.

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