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Gravitational waves: A new field for electronics, part 2

To confirm the Einstein theory, a second detection has been recorded by the Ligo detectors as it appears from a recent announcement as stated on June 15, 2016 (see Figure 1):

“The two LIGO gravitational wave detectors in Hanford Washington and Livingston Louisiana have caught a second robust signal from two black holes in their final orbits and then their coalescence into a single black hole. This event, dubbed GW151226, was seen on December 26th at 03:38:53 (in Universal Coordinated Time, also known as Greenwich Mean Time), near the end of LIGO's first observing period (“O1”), and was immediately nicknamed “the Boxing Day event”. Like LIGO's first detection, this event was identified within minutes of the gravitational wave's passing. Subsequent careful studies of the instruments and environments around the observatories showed that the signal seen in the two detectors was truly from distant black holes – some 1.4 billion light years away, coincidentally at about the same distance as the first signal ever detected . The Boxing Day event differed from the LIGO's first gravitational wave observation in some important ways, however. ” (Source: LIGO PRESS RELEASE)

Figure 1

'This artist's illustration depicts the merging black hole binary systems for GW150914 (left image) and GW151226 (right image). The black hole pairs are shown together in this illustration, but were actually detected at different times, and on different parts of the sky. The images have been scaled to show the difference in black hole masses. In the GW150914 event, the black holes were 29 and 36 times that of our Sun, while in GW151226, the two black holes weighed in at 14 and 8 solar masses. Image credit: LIGO/A. Simonnet.' (Source: LIGO / educational)

“This artist's illustration depicts the merging black hole binary systems for GW150914 (left image) and GW151226 (right image). The black hole pairs are shown together in this illustration, but were actually detected at different times, and on different parts of the sky. The images have been scaled to show the difference in black hole masses. In the GW150914 event, the black holes were 29 and 36 times that of our Sun, while in GW151226, the two black holes weighed in at 14 and 8 solar masses. Image credit: LIGO/A. Simonnet.” (Source: LIGO / educational)

The second detection of gravitational waves is very promising because it opens the road to a new explanation of the structure of the universe and the interactions of celestial bodies and their gravitational fields. (see Figure.2):

Figure 2

'This image depicts two black holes just moments before they collided and merged with each other, releasing energy in the form of gravitational waves' (Source: PHYS ORG)

“This image depicts two black holes just moments before they collided and merged with each other, releasing energy in the form of gravitational waves” (Source: PHYS ORG)

Gravitational waves are a physical entity of open space, many similar phenomena can be sensed, measured and the related data can be processed through the analysis of the light emitted from a pair of stars: it is important to increase the sensitivity of the detectors and this task can be accomplished by means of very accurate sensors and realized by means of electronics technology for laser lights.

The accuracy and sensitivity of the LIGO detectors might be further increased by massive utilization of highly accurate and performing electronic systems such as sensors, processors, and data storage setups. The contribution of electronics to the discovery of gravitational waves includes the high accuracy measurement instrumentation setup. Let’s think for example of all the computers that process the data coming from the vibrational detectors, and the extremely high accuracy of the measurement electronic instruments to detect the vibrations: with an accuracy of up to 10-23 m that is required to detect the deformation of the tunnels of the LIGO detectors, which is caused by the impact of the gravitational waves on the tunnels.

Speaking about the accuracy of laser light measurement, let’s consider the infrared light sensor circuit in the following figure, which shows a block diagram for an integrated IR sensor. The IR sensor’s basic principle of operation is the measurement of the IR radiation incidence on the photodiode, whose resistance varies accordingly, this information is processed by the IC which is an op amp configured as a voltage comparator (see Figure 3): the more accurate and reliable the photodiode, the better will be the accuracy of the infrared light source.

Figure 3

The layout and the description of an IR sensor made of electronic components.
(Source: maxEmbedded.com)

The layout and the description of an IR sensor made of electronic components. (Source: maxEmbedded.com)

Do you like the idea of applying laser light electronics technology to astronomical measurements, such as in the case of the detection of gravitational waves?

Do you think that electronics will play an important role for astronomical studies in the near future?

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