by Wm. Robert Johnston
last updated 24 September 2001
The amplitude of the wave depicted here is about 1021 times greater than that of gravitational waves expected to be detected by the LIGO arrays. This represents a wave with h+ or "h-plus" polarization. Waves can also have an hx or "h-cross" polarization, such that the directions of stretching and compression are rotated by 45°. This is illustrated below, again for a wave traveling perpendicular to the computer screen:
The illustrations below show the effect of combined polarizations. The first example shows a circularly polarized wave, which can be considered the simultaneous result of the above two waves (with a difference in phase):
Note in the illustration above that each particle (red dots) moves in a small circle. The large grey circle defined by the particles appears to rotate clockwise, but the particles are only oscillating about their normal positions.
(to be continued)
© 2001 by Wm. Robert Johnston.
Last modified 24 September 2001.
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