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SU professors, students contribute to discovery that wins 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics

Tom Magnarelli
SU physics professors Duncan Brown and Stefan Ballmer.

Syracuse University professors and students helped work on the discovery of gravitational waves, which won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics. They were part of an international scientific collaboration of about 1,000 researchers, analyzing the data from the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory. SU physics professor Duncan Brown said gravitational waves are ripples in the fabric of space time caused by colliding black holes.

"The information encoded in those gravitational waves tells us about the universe, how stars evolve, how they live, how they die," Brown said. "It's not everyday that you get to be part of a whole new field of astronomy."

SU physics professor Stefan Ballmer said the recognition from the Nobel committee is tremendously pleasing.

"We all invested our careers in this," Ballmer said. "We know that it's a new frontier in physics, peeling back the curtain of the unknown a little more for all of humanity."

Ballmer said continuing to study gravitational waves could reveal more about the origin of the universe.