Gravity Waves

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Mike Herman
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Gravity Waves

Postby Mike Herman » Sat Mar 21, 2015 5:51 am

Gravity wave interferometers are built to detect tiny distance changes between mirrors. Is this because it would take light more time to travel between them if the distance increases, or because the total number of wavelengths of light between them would change, with a passing gravity wave? I ask because I don't know if a gravity wave would also affect (eg. stretch) the light between the mirrors as it passes or not. TNX.

Markus Schwarz
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Re: Gravity Waves

Postby Markus Schwarz » Mon Mar 23, 2015 1:53 pm

Mike Herman wrote:Gravity wave interferometers are built to detect tiny distance changes between mirrors. Is this because it would take light more time to travel between them if the distance increases, or because the total number of wavelengths of light between them would change, with a passing gravity wave? I ask because I don't know if a gravity wave would also affect (eg. stretch) the light between the mirrors as it passes or not. TNX.

Gravity waves are different from gravitational waves; you mean gravitational waves.

Your question is difficult to answer. My guess is that (to lowest order) the light wave acts as a test particle, and is unaffected by the gravitational wave. A gravitational waves does change the proper distance of the two interferometer arms differently. Hence, light travels different distances in the two arms before recombined at the detector (this is how an interferometer works).

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geckzilla
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Re: Gravity Waves

Postby geckzilla » Mon Mar 23, 2015 7:12 pm

Markus Schwarz wrote:Gravity waves are different from gravitational waves; you mean gravitational waves.

It is ridiculously easy to confuse these two. Pretty bad nomenclature, really. Right up there with planetary nebula.
Just call me "geck" because "zilla" is like a last name.

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neufer
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Re: Gravity Waves

Postby neufer » Mon Mar 23, 2015 10:06 pm

Markus Schwarz wrote:
Mike Herman wrote:
Gravity wave interferometers are built to detect tiny distance changes between mirrors. Is this because it would take light more time to travel between them if the distance increases, or because the total number of wavelengths of light between them would change, with a passing gravity wave? I ask because I don't know if a gravity wave would also affect (eg. stretch) the light between the mirrors as it passes or not. TNX.

Gravity waves are different from gravitational waves; you mean gravitational waves.

Your question is difficult to answer. My guess is that (to lowest order) the light wave acts as a test particle, and is unaffected by the gravitational wave. A gravitational waves does change the proper distance of the two interferometer arms differently. Hence, light travels different distances in the two arms before recombined at the detector (this is how an interferometer works).

    The light wave acts as 'constant speed of light' test particles in which
    1) time, 2) the frequency of oscillation, & 3) the wavelength (= c/f) are all unaffected.

    Special relativity motion in the z direction distorts t & z ... but x & y are unaffected.
    A weak gravitational wave in the z direction distorts x & y ... but t & z are unaffected.
The proper relative distances (a.k.a., the simple relative spatial distances) of the two (free falling) interferometer arms do oscillation out of sync and (provided that the gravitational wave oscillation time is much slower than the back & forth travel time of the photons) it simply takes longer (i.e., more constant wavelengths) for the photons to traverse in the longer direction than in the shorter one.

Resonant-mass gravitational wave detectors work somewhat differently.
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Mike Herman
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Re: Gravity Waves

Postby Mike Herman » Tue Mar 24, 2015 4:14 am

Thanks. My confusion is based on the interpretation of expanding space as causing the "stretching" of the CBR wavelength over time. If expanding space can stretch wavelength, I assumed a gravity (gravitational?) wave might do the same thing. If so, that could "hide" the varying distance between interferometry mirrors. But if it's not the wavelength but the travel time that signals a difference, I can see where a passing gravity wave might still be detected.


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