When studying gravitational waves, scientists are faced with the fact that such phenomena can have a scale far exceeding the capabilities of existing instruments. Modern detectors cannot pick up gravitational influences that are stretched over decades in time. To find them, scientists from the University of Colorado at Boulder (USA) proposed turning … our entire galaxy into a measuring device.
The very existence of supermassive and slow gravitational waves is still only a theory. Devices like LIGO cannot detect them in principle, because even the Earth itself is too small to be somehow affected by such waves. The alleged source of such disturbances is known – these are grandiose cosmic events like the merger of black holes. Alas, all the signals from them now look like background noise to us.
However, when you look at the problem on the scale of the galaxy, things become different. It is large enough that we can trace how the gravitational wave gradually reaches various objects and affects them. Such beacons will be pulsars, whose rotational speed is so high that excess gravity is likely to have a serious impact on it. And let it be a deviation of only a fraction of a second, but the instruments of the North American Nanohertz Observatory of Gravitational Waves will already be able to record it. The list of 45 pulsars across the Milky Way that will become the new observatory is already compiled.