Are astronomers seeing a signal from giant black holes?

World-wide radio telescope network strengthens evidence for signal that may hint at ultra-low frequency gravitational waves

Artist’s impression of the IPTA experiment — an array of pulsars around the Earth embedded in a gravitational wave background from supermassive black hole binaries. The signals from the pulsars measured with a network of global radio telescopes are affected by the gravitational waves and allow for the study of the origin of the background. Image by Carl Knox (OxGrav).

An international team of astronomers has discovered what could be the early sign of a background signal arising from supermassive black holes, observed through low-frequency gravitational waves. These scientists are comparing data collected from several instruments, including the National Science Foundation’s Green Bank Telescope (GBT.)

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Surprising Facts about the Green Bank Observatory

The Green Bank Observatory campus viewed from above, featuring many historic and active instruments, including the Green Bank Telescope, upper left with the backdrop of the Monongahela National Forest. Photo credit Jay Young.

The sprawling 2,700-acre campus has been in Green Bank as long as many residents of Pocahontas county, West Virginia can remember. But what do you really know about this place?

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COVID-19 Safety Operations

The Green Bank Science Center is open to pre-registered visitors only. Walk-ins will not be permitted. Learn more and pre-register here.

Take a FREE self-guided walking tour on site. Hiking and biking are welcome. An observation deck to view the Green Bank Telescope is located in the Jansky Lab parking lot. You can download and print a map for a self guided walking tour here.

Learn more about biking onsite here.

Visit the Galaxy Gift Shop online.

Try these educational resources and activities at home.

Our instruments are extremely sensitive, and many operate 24-hours a day. Smart phones, digital cameras, fitness trackers, and other electronic devices can interfere with observations. Our scientists thank you for leaving these powered off in your vehicle!

Educational groups scheduled for visits and programs in 2022 that are affected by our current operations will be contacted directly. Virtual visits are being offered for groups, learn more here. If you have questions, please contact our Education staff directly at gro.y1656186142rotav1656186142resbo1656186142bg@sn1656186142oitav1656186142reser1656186142.

As these operations continue to evolve, please check back for updates.

Do we understand gravity? The GBT says yes!

Einstein’s theory of relativity passes a range of precise tests set by pair of extreme stars

Artistic impression of the Double Pulsar system, where two active pulsars orbit each other in just 147 minutes. The orbital motion of these extremely dense neutron stars causes a number of relativistic effects, including the creation of ripples in spacetime known as gravitational waves. The gravitational waves carry away energy from the systems which shrinks by about 7mm per day as a result. The corresponding measurement agrees with the prediction of general relativity within 0.013%. © Michael Kramer/MPIfR

The National Science Foundation’s Green Bank Telescope (GBT) was one of seven radio telescopes around the world whose combined observations of a Double Pulsar reinforce Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

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