Using the Moon’s Orbit as a Powerful New Gravitational Wave Detector

Researchers from the UAB, IFAE, and University College London propose using the variations in distance between the Earth and the Moon, which can be measured with a precision of less than a centimeter, as a new gravitational wave detector within a frequency range that current devices cannot detect. The research, which could pave the way for the detection of signals from the early universe, was published recently in Physical Review Letters.

Gravitational waves, predicted by Albert Einstein at the start of the 20th century and detected for the first time in 2015, are the new messengers of the most violent processes taking place in the universe. The gravitational wave detectors scan different frequency ranges, similar to moving a dial when tuning into a radio station. Nevertheless, there are frequencies that are impossible to cover with current devices and which may harbor signals that are fundamental to understanding the cosmos. One particular example can be seen in microhertz waves, which could have been produced at the dawn of our universe, and are practically invisible to even the most advanced technology available today.

In an article recently published in the prestigious journal Physical Review Letters, researchers Diego Blas from the Department of Physics at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) and the Institut de Física d’Altes Energies (IFAE), and Alexander Jenkins from the University College London (UCL), point out that a natural gravitational wave detector exists in our immediate environment: the Earth-Moon System. The gravitational waves constantly hitting this system generate tiny deviations in the Moon’s orbit. Although these deviations are minute, Blas and Jenkins plan on taking advantage of the fact that the Moon’s exact position is known with an error of at most one centimeter, thanks to the use of lasers sent from different observatories which are continuously reflected upon mirrors left on the surface of the Moon by the Apollo space mission and others. This incredible precision, with an error of one billionth of a part at most, is what may allow a small disturbance caused by ancient gravitational waves to be detected. The Moon’s orbit lasts approximately 28 days, which translates into a particularly relevant sensitivity when it comes to microhertz, the frequency range researchers are interested in.

Similarly, they also propose using the information other binary systems in the universe may provide as gravitational wave detectors. This is the case of pulsar binary systems distributed throughout the galaxy, systems in which the pulsar’s radiation beam allows obtaining the orbit of these stars with incredible precision (with a precision of one millionth). Given that these orbits last approximately 20 days, the passing of gravitational waves in the microhertz frequency range affect them particularly. Blas and Jenkins concluded that these systems could also be potential detectors of these types of gravitational waves.

With these “natural detectors” in the microhertz frequency range, Blas and Jenkins were able to propose a new form of studying gravitational waves emitted by the distant universe. Specifically, those produced by the possible presence of transitions in highly energetic phases of the early universe, commonly seen in many models.

“What is most interesting perhaps is that this method complements future ESA/NASA missions, such as LISA, and observatories participating in the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) project, to reach an almost total coverage of the gravitational waves from the nanohertz (SKA) to the centihertz (LIGO/VIRGO) frequency ranges. This coverage is vital to obtaining a precise image of the evolution of the universe, as well as its composition”, Diego Blas explains. “Covering the microhertz frequency range is a challenge, which now may be feasible without the need of building new detectors, and only observing the orbits of systems we already know. This connection between fundamental aspects of the universe and more mundane objects is particularly fascinating and can eventually lead to the detection of the earliest signals we have ever seen, and thus change what we know about the cosmos”, he concludes.

Reference: “Bridging the μHz Gap in the Gravitational-Wave Landscape with Binary Resonances” by Diego Blas and Alexander C. Jenkins, 11 March 2022, Physical Review Letters.
DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.128.101103

AstronomyAstrophysicsGravitational WavesPopularUniversitat Autonoma de Barcelona
Comments ( 5 )
Add Comment
  • B

    New Moon – Nouvelle Lune, 1st Quarter – Premier Quarter, Full Moon – Plene Lune, Last Quarter – Derrier Quarter
    Find those hidden freq.already, whoever said that, or labeling those out context, consuming too with your cronies, keep your foes close to who, maybe hire one them, instead of all friends. Scared they going shut down that super computer or add some virus? Say whatever your heartz desire, something of whos Manifiestos De SSKK ISS, you the ones with all the power. I am there is lots out that you know is pure BS, this is just a reaction. Maybe,I did say some of those things, they freaked me out, learning to adapt hopefully, not trying to bother anyone, just wish ppl stop playing so many damn stupid gamez with each other. Anyways good luck with those H.F.(s)!!!

  • Sekar

    Interesting.

    1. See my post on Ingenuity Flight on Planet Mars.
    2. Aligns with my views on drivers of flight of the helicopter.
    3. Mars has two moons.
    4. There was a recent post on Earth detecting a small asteroid only two hours away. This had triggered the thought about perturbatio in gravitational waves from baseline for detecting suchh ojects.
    5. Seems practical now.

    Views expressed are personal and not binding on anyone.

  • Peter

    We are a geo stationary extraction from the cbr… the cosmic background radiation and we are here to learn love uf you cannot fathom it think how it would float in a density of radiation sustaining the energies in the core of our planet as we turn to evolve through a series of stations look at the snowflake and think the cosmic stations if astrology. It’s one to marvel but not to discourage 3ncourage the new clearer path to a greater existence with peace liberty and thus freedom the predecessor to love without it we are not with it we will always be… eternity is no limit as jesus speaks quite plainly. If you do not believe in the things Moses does how will you believe in the things I do… Salah

  • mullach abu

    Using the moons orbit as a powerful new gravitational wave detector within a frequency range that current devices cannot detect
    The earth moon lunar selene binary system
    The gravitational waves constantly hitting this system generate tiny deviations in the moons orbit
    The moons orbit lasts approximately 28 days in microhertz frequency bridging the uhz gap in the gravitional wave landscape with binary resonances
    As you don’t seem to know the gravitional wave of a moon lunar selene system on a binary companion lets speculate will we to accumulate the knowledge required to detect a crescent moon lunar motion as against a full moon lunar motion
    So are u ready to be steady to be strapped in for a sonic motion of the dark side of the moon
    The moon orbits the earth at a speed of 3,686 kilometres 2,288 miles per hour during this time it travels a distance of 2,290,000 kilometres 1,423,000 miles and in 29.5 days it has completed its orbit of one moonth
    And in that moonth mane it changes phase from new crescent moonie mane to waxing half moon to waxed full mane lunar moon followed by waning half moon in the right mane hand and waning crescent moon mane before it disappears altogether like a vanishing act to reappear again in the left mane hand as a new crescent moon
    Is it an appartition or is it an unveiling or how the heck does a magician conceal with their left mane hand and reveal with their right mane hand an object the size of the moon its called a three card moon trick
    Take a moon any moon whether it be crescent quarter full or new waxing or waning as you don’t seem to know they are all one size 3500 kilometres diameter approximately
    Now it seems to like speeding around sonically at approximately 3500 kilometres per hour
    So as it is cruising through the heliosheath of the solar system its proper motion is having an eureka moment every hour of the journey
    Eureka Archimedes steps into a bath and hey presto the volume of Archimedes body displaces an equal amount of the volume of water in the bath
    Moonureka lunareka manereka selereka a moon steps into the solar heliosheath and hey presto it displaces an equal amount of the volume of the heliosphere in the lunar orbital proper motion path
    Now thats to u and me and to anyone else who does not know a hemisphere 3500 kilometres diameter and 1750 kilkometres in height and where is its direction and where is its motion
    Well as you don’t know let me ask all those moongazers out there where does it go to more specifically to all those eclipse moon gazers as you sit and watch the first limb of the moon kiss the side of the solar sun and then the lights fade and dizzying starlight swirls around as you fell faint and then the solar sun is eclipsed and becomes totally dark in the moons shadow
    How many of you have experienced the moment when all becomes changed changed utterly a terrible beauty is born
    And that there blackness spreads across the earth globe 3.500 kilometres wide along a 36,000 kilometres earth
    Do you remember the moment
    Do you remember the microhertz frequency bridging 385,000 kilometres wide the uhz gap in the gravitional wave landscape with binary resonances
    Of course you don’t
    Nobody has
    But forget the eclipse and the three card trick
    Because every hour of every day of every moon lunar mane selene moonth its happening
    Even as you read this line of the script
    Out there the shadow of the moon is gravitational kissing a 3500 kilometre section of the terrestrial earth
    And it may even pass over an ocean or two and guess what
    Are you waving to it
    Because its waving back in three different three card trick forms
    Firstly by being the gravitational waves constantly hitting this system generate tiny deviations in the moon and earth orbit
    Secondly The gravitational waves constantly hitting this system generate tiny eureka moments of the heliosheath upon the earth planet and orbit
    Thirdly the tiny 3500 hemispheres 1,500 kilometres pounding at you hour by constant hour by constant hour 24 a day 720 a moonth when they hit the ocean think of the wave they will create in the atlantic ocean or the pacific would it be one metre two three or four metre high waves across the ocean waves
    Its called a Mexican mane wave motion of a microhertz frequency yet to be detected and you did wonder why the moon ruled the tides of modern times and the high tidings of great joy that we bring you this la le fheile phadraig oiche night before the lunar first point of the vernal spring equinox day

  • Hemanta

    thank you so much for this information . I am waiting post your next information /knowledge ……