gravity wavesLLacertae on FlickrArtist's concept of gravitational waves in space.

Physicists have searched for ripples in the fabric of spacetime for nearly 100 years, ever since Albert Einstein's 1915 theory of relativity predicted they exist.

These ripples, called gravitational waves, happen when a massive celestial object suddenly moves, like when a star explodes, or when two massive objects collide, like the merging of two black holes.

These cataclysmic disturbances create ripples through space and time — the same way a rain drop can make ripples when it falls on the surface of a lake.

The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) has been searching for these gravitational waves since 2002 with no luck. But a more powerful, advanced LIGO — about three times more sensitive than the original detector — started operating in September 2015.

And now a rumor is circulating that physicists at the new and improved LIGO have finally detected the elusive waves. If it's true, it will be one of the most important discoveries in physics in the last century.

The rumor first cropped up just a few weeks after the advanced LIGO started operating. Cosmologist Lawrence Krauss tweeted that LIGO may have found the elusive waves at last:

As promised, Krauss followed up today (January 11), and it seems the rumor has held true:

But the official word from LIGO is that there's no news to report yet.

"We will share results when ready but have nothing yet — it takes months to analyze the data, interpret results and review them," Gabriela Gonzalez, physicist and spokesperson for LIGO, told Tech Insider in an email.

Some have speculated that the rumor might be the result of a drill — a false positive signal stuck into the LIGO data as a kind of training exercise for the scientists analyzing it.

Whoever Krauss' source is says that's not the case though:

Others have taken to Twitter to express their frustration that the rumor exists at all.

As Jennifer Ouellette reported in Gizmodo, Loyola University physicist Robert McNees tweeted that he doubts the rumor came from scientists at LIGO:

The discovery of gravitational waves would further confirm the theory of inflation — the idea that in the first few moments the universe existed, it underwent a rapid and mind-bogglingly huge expansion. That kind of rapid expansion would almost certainly leave behind ripples through spacetime.

But the most important part is that inflation is an idea that falls under quantum physics (the laws that govern tiny subatomic particles), while gravitational waves are part of classical physics (the laws that govern larger objects). The discovery of gravitational waves could establish a link between quantum physics and classical physics and get us one step closer to a grand "theory of everything" in physics.

Tech Insider has reached out to Krauss and other scientists at LIGO and we'll update this post if we hear back.