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China Begins Building Highest-Altitude Gravitational Wave Telescopes In Tibet

First Posted: Jan 16, 2017 02:53 AM EST
China Gravitational Wave Telescope
China to set up world’s highest-altitude telescopes at border with India.
(Photo : INDIAN DEFENCE NEWS/YouTube screenshot)

China has begun the construction of the planet's highest-altitude gravitational wave telescopes in Tibet. The telescope will be used to detect the faintest echoes that resonate from the universe, which could enable scientists to know more about the Big Bang theory. 

According to an Economic Times report, the telescopes will be located in Tibet's Ngari Prefecture, about 30 kilometers south of Shiquanhe Town. The construction of the first telescope code named Ngari No has just started on a plateau that stands 5,000 meters above sea level. 

According to China Daily, the location of the telescopes is one of the best places in the Northern Hemisphere to study primordial gravitational waves due to Tibet's dry climate and thin air that reduces the influence of moisture. The construction of the observatory is expected to be complete in five years.

First predicted by Albert Einstein in 1915 as a part of his general theory of relativity, gravitational waves are generated via the collision of celestial bodies. Gravitational waves were first detected by the U.S.' advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory in September 2015 when it picked up the waves created by the merging of two black holes 1.3 billion years ago. 

The newly constructed telescopes in Tibet will have the task of not detecting gravitational waves, but rather primordial gravitational waves, which researchers believe were created around 13.8 billion years ago by the Big Bang and have never been discovered so far.

"The Big Bang spread sub-millimeter light waves over a wide area. So researchers will install a submillimeter telescope on the mountains in Ali to search for submillimeter waves and uncover primordial gravitational waves from the Big Bang," said Wang Junjie, astrophysicist at China's National Astronomical Observatories. "What we're searching for is primordial gravitational waves that have traveled for 13.8 billion years before arriving at Earth, and, if they exist, they're very weak."

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