21 Feb 2016

Radio ham contributed to Detection of Gravitational Waves

Radio amateur Dr. Joe Taylor K1JT and Dr. Russell Hulse won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1993 'for the discovery of a new type of pulsar, a discovery that has opened up new possibilities for the study of gravitation'

A New York Times article about the Detection of Gravity Waves notes Joe Taylor's contribution:

In 1978, the radio astronomers Joseph H. Taylor Jr. [K1JT] and Russell A. Hulse, then at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, discovered a pair of neutron stars, superdense remnants of dead stars, orbiting each other. One of them was a pulsar, emitting a periodic beam of electromagnetic radiation. By timing its pulses, the astronomers determined that the stars were losing energy and falling closer together at precisely the rate that would be expected if they were radiating gravitational waves.

In awarding the Nobel Prize in 1993 The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said: 
What was new about the Hulse-Taylor pulsar was that, from the behavior of the beacon signal, it could be deduced that it was accompanied by an approximately equally heavy companion at a distance corresponding to only a few times the distance of the moon from the earth. The behavior of this astronomical system deviates greatly from what can be calculated for a pair of heavenly bodies using Newton's theory. Here a new, revolutionary "space laboratory" has been obtained for testing Einstein's general theory of relativity and alternative theories of gravity. So far, Einstein's theory has passed the tests with flying colours. Of particular interest has been the possibility of verifying with great precision the theory's prediction that the system should lose energy by emitting gravitational waves in about the same way that a system of moving electrical charges emits electromagnetic waves.

Read the full New York Times story at:

Read the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physics press release 

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