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HK scientist involved in gravitational waves discovery expects further breakthroughs

HONG KONG, June 16 — In the second time that detection of gravitational waves was announced Thursday, the only Hong Kong scientist in the study team, Tjonnie Li, said he expects more breakthroughs to come.

The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) Scientific Collaboration and the Virgo Collaboration announced Thursday that gravitational waves were detected for the second time on Dec. 26, 2015 at 03:38 a.m. (UTC) by both of the twin LIGO detectors, located in Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington, USA.

Li, a physics professor from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, has participated in the LIGO Scientific Collaboration research since 2009.

"The detection of gravitational waves is not a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence, but instead is something that physicists can look forward to seeing frequently in the future," he said.

The first detection of gravitational waves, which was announced on Feb. 11, 2016, confirmed a major prediction of Albert Einstein's 1915 general theory of relativity and marked the beginning of the new field of gravitational-wave astronomy.

The black holes found in the second discovery were much less massive than those observed in the first detection.

Due to their lighter masses compared to the first detection, they spent more time, about one second, in the sensitive band of the detectors.

This can help scientists to map the populations of black holes in the universe.

Li said earlier that a new era in astronomy has begun due to the discovery, describing it as a turning point in science.

"I believe there will be more breakthrough discoveries down the road,"the HK scientist said.

The university has recently signed a memorandum of understanding to become the first Hong Kong member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration and began a formal collaboration this March. (PNA/Xinhua)

LAM/CDN

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