South Coast Astronomer Part Of Global Effort To Solve Mystery Behind Waves Which Hit Earth

Feb 3, 2020

A South Coast astronomer is part of a global effort to solve the mystery behind a mysterious deep space event which researchers believe sent a burst of gravitational waves towards the Earth. Andy Howell is a scientist with the Las Cumbres Observatory, which is based in Goleta. Las Cumbres operates a global network of telescopes used by researchers around the world. It was a split second burst, and is the type of thing normally associated with an event like black holes colliding.

The Las Cumbres researcher, who also teaches at UC Santa Barbara, says while the waves were detected January 14th, they could have potentially been generated deep in space hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands of years ago.

The researcher admits there’s also a slight chance this could be a false call, because the instruments which detected them are so sensitive. But, his instinct is that it was a real event. Howell says we should know more later this year, when researchers expect to get additional data on the bursts.

You can learn more about the waves at an event on the South Coast this week. Las Cumbres is sponsoring the latest in its series of “Astronomy on Tap” events. It’s a chance to meet and hear from astronomers in person. It will take place at 7:30 Wednesday night, at “The Matrix” nightclub and lounge in Santa Barbara.