MILWAUKEE — Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee played a role in breakthrough research on gravitational waves that earned a Nobel Prize in physics.

Researchers Barry Barish and Kip Thorne of California and Massachusetts scientist Rainer Weiss were awarded the Nobel Prize Tuesday. They worked on the 2015 project which observed gravitational waves that were caused by the far-away collision of two black holes about a billion years ago.

UW-Milwaukee physics professor Patrick Brady led a team that helped figure out how to analyze the data in the project, Wisconsin Public Radio reports .

The data was collected by two giant observatories known as Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory

“The data itself is incredibly noisy. It’s like being in a very big space with a lot of people talking at the same time,” he said. “And, what we have to do is dig out the sound that corresponds to just the type of signal we want.”

The next step in the project involves locating more gravitational waves from the black holes, Brady said. The scientific community is researching what technological advances could come from the detection of gravitational waves, he said.

“And as we do, we learn more about how big black holes are in the universe, how many there are, where they tend to hang out in the universe,” Brady said.

A black hole is a place in space where gravity is so strong that light can’t get out.


Information from: Wisconsin Public Radio, http://www.wpr.org