I recently watched an installment of "Spaces Deepest Secrets" that examined the efforts of the BICEP2 team. (Strangely, it was titled "When Black Holes Collide.") The team was looking for gravitational waves predicted by inflationary theory that were created just 10-32 seconds after the birth of the universe. Though the team thought they had discovered such waves, it later turned out to be dust in the Milky Way galaxy. At the very end of this installment a graphic was displayed that said the LIGO team had, in fact, discovered gravitational waves and seemed to imply that Inflation Theory had, therefore, been confirmed.

As far as I could remember, the LIGO team had discovered gravitational waves from either the dance of two closely orbiting black holes, or the merger of two black holes. I don't recall anything from that initial discovery about gravitational waves that confirmed Inflation Theory. And a quick Google search seems to confirm this.

So the question is: did the LIGO team also discover gravitational waves left over from Inflation?

  • $\begingroup$ Not to the best of my knowledge, the signature being sought was one that matched GR predictions of black hole based gravitational waves only. $\endgroup$ – user171879 Oct 13 '17 at 22:20

No. The LIGO team (and also now VIRGO) have discovered gravitational waves from merging "stellar-sized" black holes so far (watch this space). Gravitational waves from the big bang have not been observed and are not anticipated to be found directly, at least until space-based interferometers are developed.


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