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In the wake of the recent news of the confirmation of the existence on gravitational waves, I was discussing gravitational waves with a friend, and he asked whether this could potentially lead to some kind of warp drive, and I pretty much immediately dismissed it. However, it got me thinking.

The gravitational waves detected by LIGO were from 2 black holes that merged and released of the order of 3 solar masses of gravitational energy (I apologise if I'm slightly butchering the science here, I'm no physicist), and it caused a "deflection" (again, please excuse, and feel free to correct, any technical ignorance on my part) of a fraction of the width of a proton.

The point of my question is this: if such an unimaginably large output of energy could cause such a tiny "deflection" at a distance of ~1.3 billion light years, what would something like LIGO (or perhaps something more like ESA's eLISA) observe at a distance of only 1 light year?

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  • $\begingroup$ do you mean : "what is the dependency of the GW to the distance ? Is it something on 1/r , 1/r² or what else ?" $\endgroup$ – user46925 Feb 13 '16 at 15:24
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, I guess that was sort of what I was asking. The answer linked by @ACuriousMind tells me enough I think. $\endgroup$ – limey Feb 13 '16 at 16:00
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possible answer....How close would you have to be to the merger of two black holes, for the effects of gravitational waves to be detected without instruments? ....As he explains, if somethings like that happens a the distance you suggest, we should not be worrying about the waves.

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    $\begingroup$ Please don't post a link-only answer; in this context, it should rather be a comment and not an answer. $\endgroup$ – user36790 Feb 13 '16 at 11:53
  • $\begingroup$ ok......but if was trivial, it would have been converted to a comment automatically right? $\endgroup$ – Sidarth Feb 13 '16 at 11:54
  • $\begingroup$ No. There is no such mechanism here. $\endgroup$ – user36790 Feb 13 '16 at 12:00
  • $\begingroup$ That answer does help, but I don't think it fully answers my question. For starters, its talking about a distance a billion times closer and a black hole much smaller (I think). $\endgroup$ – limey Feb 13 '16 at 12:39

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