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Unraveling the quantum structure of spacetime with GWs

Jan. 17, 2021

One of the lessons that we learnt in the past century is that Nature obeys the laws of quantum mechanics. While other known forces in Physics have been successfully described with a quantum framework, the `quantization’ of gravity persists, still, as one of the long-standing problems in modern physics.

One of the reasons that make this theory so elusive is the current lack of experimental data, forcing researchers to rely only on theoretical arguments. Now, in a Physical Review Letters article, researchers from CENTRA/Técnico, Louisiana, and Geneva have shown how to use black holes and gravitational waves to infer, experimentally, information on the underlying quantum structure of spacetime.

In their article, Ivan Agullo, Vitor Cardoso, Adrian del Rio, Michele Maggiore and Jorge Pullin were able to find different channels in gravitational-wave astronomy where observable signatures of quantum gravity could be found. Most importantly, these observable imprints are within reach of future detectors. Thus, by looking at the emission of gravitational waves from black holes, researchers will be finally able to start disentangling the actual (quantum) nature of spacetime.