Researchers search for the "hum" made by gravitational waves

A team of international researchers is conducting research to discover the "hum" made by gravitational waves that has never been heard before. Neutron stars cause gravitational waves, and the hunt for the sound they create has gotten easier thanks to the team of scientists. So far, gravitational waves have been detected from black holes and neutron stars that are colliding both considered major cosmic events causing huge bursts that ripple through space and time.

Members of the research team include scientists from the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC), Virgo Collaboration, and the Center for Gravitational Astrophysics (CGA) at The Australian National University (ANU). Researchers on the project believe spinning neutron stars create a bulge only a few millimeters high that could produce a steady constant stream or "hum" of gravitational waves. Scientists are using methods previously used to detect gravitational waves for the first time in 2015 to capture the sound of the stars over the cacophony of noise created by massive black holes and dense neutron stars.

Capturing the noise is a significant challenge that the scientists likened to attempting to capture a mouse's squeak during a stampede of elephants. If the team is successful, it would be the first detection of a gravitational event that didn't involve the collision of massive objects such as black holes or neutron stars. Despite the ongoing scientific investigation around the world, neutron stars remain a mystery.

Scientists don't understand what neutron stars are made of or how many types exist. What they do know is when neutron stars collide, they create an incredible burst of gravitational waves that propagate across the universe. By comparison, the spinning of a neutron star creates a gentle hum described as very faint and almost impossible to detect. Researchers on the project say searching for gravitational waves created by neutron stars allows them to probe nuclear matter states that can't be produced in laboratories on earth.