The joint German-British Gravitational Wave Detector GEO600 has started an 18-month run of continuous measurement of gravitational waves.

Researchers say they are optimistic they will be able to observe the never before seen phenomena that is one of the great untested predictions of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity.

If there is a supernova in our vicinity during the next couple of months, our chances of detecting and measuring the resulting gravitational waves are good, said Karsten Danzmann, head of the International Center for Gravitational Physics, which is run by the Max Planck Society and the University of Hanover.

Since test runs started in 2002 the detector’s sensitivity has been improved.

"Today our sensitivity has increased by a factor of 3,000 and we can detect events in distances many times greater than the distance between us and our galactic neighbor, the Andromeda galaxy.

We are opening a wholly new chapter in the long history of astronomy with the direct observation of the dark side of our universe — black holes, dark matter and the reverberations of the big bang.