$3 Million Special Breakthrough Prize Awarded for Discovery of Gravitation Waves

May 05, 2016 11:36 AM EDT

Scientists and engineers involved in the discovery of gravitational wave, or the ripples in the fabric of space-time that were predicted by Albert Einstein in 1916 as part of his theory in general relativity, were awarded a $3 million Special Breakthrough Prize after just two months since publishing their discovery and confirming the existence of gravitational wave

The team from Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) announced last February the discovery of tiny ripples in space and time, as theorized by Einstein, using a pair of giant laser detectors.

According to their study, the ripples were generated by two merging black holes, about 30 times the size of the sun, in a faraway galaxy.

The Special Breakthrough Prize is given by the Breakthrough Prize Foundation, created by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner along with several technology pioneers, including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Google co-founder Sergey Brin, according to

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LIGO's three founders, Ronald Drever and Kip Thorne of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, and Rainer Weiss of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, plans to share $1 million of the prize, while the remaining $2 million will be divided equally among the scientist and engineers who made the discovery possible.

"For us to spend basically a half-century since the three of us started working in this field, to have it actually be pulled off successfully in the manner we dreamed - it was really remarkable and wonderful," said Thorne, who is retired from the California Institute of Technology, in a report from Reuters. "I'm forever grateful to the team that got it done."

The team will also be honored in the presentation of the regular annual awards for physics, life sciences and mathematics on December.

Last April, NASA also announced that a few seconds after the LIGO team discovered the existence of gravitational waves, their Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope also detected a weak burst of high energy light in the same area where the gravitational wave was detected.

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