The 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics ran through Hanford site

The 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics ran through Hanford site

LIGO's observations are already allowing researchers to probe difficult-to-study black holes; all four detections that have been reported to date involve pairs of these light-gobbling monsters merging together.

Dr. Weiss told the New York Times the award represented some 40 years of work.

"We may be able to look back to nearly the beginning of time - just after the Big Bang, which we can not do with light", said astrophysicist Brian Schmidt, vice-chancellor of the Australian National University, referring to the gravitational waves scientists think were generated during the period of "cosmic inflation".

The prize, established by the Swedish inventor of dynamite, Alfred Nobel, in 1895, is worth 9 million kronor (€938,949, $1.1 million). General relativity says that gravity is caused by heavy objects bending space-time, which itself is the four-dimensional way that astronomers see the universe. The waves detected by the laureates came from the collision of two black holes some 1.3 billion light-years away. Barish said he does not know what he will do with the money, while Thorne said he has something in mind.

LIGO, funded by the National Science Foundation, uses incredibly sophisticated geographically-distributed laser detectors to find the elusive sounds in the universe that prove the existence of gravitational waves.

"They have taken me, as well as hundreds of my colleagues, through such an intellectually rewarding and recently adrenaline-packed journey that we could not have even remotely imagined", he said.

Professor Alberto Vecchio, from the University of Birmingham's Institute of Gravitational Wave Astronomy, said this discovery will produce results for decades to come.

Wednesday is to see the announcement of the winner (s) of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, with the literature prize winner (s) to be announced on Thursday and the much-awaited peace prize winner (s) on Friday. The economics prize, which is not technically a Nobel, will be awarded on Monday. The latest award may join the list if one seriously considers the questions raised by some physicists in the recent years in peer-reviewed journals and which remain unanswered.