Gravitational Waves: Why detecting them would open sight through new eyes to the Universe around us.
New tantalizing reports of gravitational waves being detected hit the web recently.
So if it does detect them I'd imagine it would detect distal waves with high periodicity rates. The proximal waves are going to have very long wave length and I don't know how they'd disambiguate those without making very long observation windows.
Proximal sources of such waves are:
a) the Sun itself ...very very tiny micro shedding as it gives up mass to energy. These are likely to be super super weak and likely not capturable by current generation technology.
b) the Sun - Mercury transit , though Mercury is tiny compared to the sun both do distort space time and sit in mutual wells...which should create a very tiny wake (a GW) that has periodicity matched to the rotation rate of Mercury around the Sun. This being a longer wavelength it would require a long observation window and it is also abysmally tiny. So again ...unlikely to be captured with current tech.
c) the Sun - Venus transit , though Venus is a bit bigger than Mercury it is still small and any emerged wake will be super tiny....however...the combination of the Venus - Sun wake and the Mercury - Sun wake may realize very distinctive interference fluctuations that will clearly identify the signal as the local distortion signature for those planets - sun system. I am still not sure a first generation detector is able to detect these.
So what will likely be first detected IMO?
We'll detect large amplitude and high frequency waves generated from "nearby" binary stars.
even better if they are neutron stars ...
even better still if they are rotating black holes or black hole / star systems...
We should also detect a GW noise or background from the vicinity of the core of the galaxy toward Sagittarius A . This may be irregular and hard to pin down as the gravitational dynamics in the core are complex but they should shed off a roughly gaussian background signal.
The cool thing about all of this is that knowing the mass attributes of nearby systems of these various types we should be able to precisely calculate how big the GW's they shed off will be, what their periodicity will be. So we'll be able to check reality off of the equations (or rather reality would be the check OF the equations prediction).
It would REALLY be interesting if the equations make predictions that are off by some consistent degree...indicating GR would need some kind of correction. I don't anticipate that...I think when we do find them ...we are going to find exactly what the equations predict. Though all the other major predictions of GR's capability have been performed and tested to high degree GW's stand apart as one of the most important ones should it be revealed to be real.
The main reason is highlighted by my explanation above. We will be able to pick up new signals from far away systems that can help unravel various mysteries about those systems that our optical, radio , micro wave and infrared observations can't tell us.
For example having GR detection will allow us to refine a host of calculations regarding the attributes of remote systems. Like their mass shedding rates. We'll also have a new tool (in addition to the very useful transit, transit spectral[doppler] and transit wobble methods) to help identify star systems with planets by measuring the gravitational wave beat patterns that emanate from remote systems....though I think there will present a problem of filtering all the waves that are coming from every where....disambiguating the universes GW background from the foreground will be necessary.
At least this is what my intuition tells me based on what I know about General Relativity. Any GR experts feel free to correct or elaborate on anything I wrote above that doesn't make sense. ;)
(Ways to discover exoplanets)