Gravitational waves can be used as a tool to look inside astronomical objects, similar to the way X-rays or MRIs allow us to see inside a human body.
Scientists hope to discover new ways to discover the universe that surrounds us, which still holds many secrets.
AndAccording to the newspaper “Science Alert” Gravitational wave astronomy is still in its infancy. So far, this science has focused on the most energetic and distinct sources of gravitational waves, such as the catastrophic mergers of black holes and neutron stars.
But this will change as gravitational telescopes improve, allowing astronomers to explore the universe in ways that were previously impossible.
Scientists Propose Radical New Way to Probe The Interior of The Sun https://t.co/qs6A7wbuy8
— ScienceAlert (@ScienceAlert) April 28, 2023
Although gravitational waves have many similarities with light waves, one distinct difference is that most objects are transparent to gravitational waves.
Matter can absorb, scatter and intercept light, but gravitational waves mostly pass through matter “unflinchingly”. It can be affected by the mass of the object, but it cannot be completely prevented from penetrating it.
This means that gravitational waves can be used as a tool to look inside astronomical objects, similar to the way X-rays or MRIs allow us to see inside a human body.
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That’s the idea behind a recent study looking at how to use gravitational waves to probe the sun’s interior, which is too hot and dense for light to penetrate. Even the light produced at the sun’s core takes more than 100,000 years to reach the sun’s surface.
Our only information about the sun’s interior comes from helioscience, where astronomers study the vibrations of the sun’s surface caused by sound waves inside the sun.
In this new study, the team is looking at how to use the gravitational waves of rapidly spinning neutron stars to study the sun. Although a perfectly smooth rotating object does not produce gravitational waves, asymmetrically rotating objects do.
Neutron stars can have distortions or spikes caused by internal heat or magnetic fields. If such a neutron star spins rapidly, it produces a steady stream of gravitational waves that are too faint to be noticed by current telescopes, but that the next generation of gravitational observatories should be able to detect.
Because neutron stars are so common in the galaxy, some of them are positioned so that the sun passes in front of them from our perspective. Of the more than 3,000 known pulsars, about 500 are good candidates for gravitational wave sources. The team used the features of these three pulsars as a starting point.
Since the sun is transparent to gravitational waves, the sun’s only effect on it is through gravitational mass. And when waves pass through it, it slightly reverses its gravity.
The size of the lens depends on the mass of the sun and the distribution of that mass. The team found that, with appropriate measurements, gravitational wave observations can measure the Sun’s intensity profile with an accuracy of 3 sigma.
It is possible that the three known pulsars are just a small part of the sources of gravitational waves that pass behind the sun. Most neutron stars have a direction of rotation that does not direct the radio flashes in our direction, but they can still be used as gravitational probes.
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