Gravitational Waves Detected 100 Years After Einstein's Prediction
LIGO has opened a new window on the universe with the observation of gravitational waves from colliding black holes.
For the first time, scientists have observed ripples in the fabric of spacetime called gravitational waves, arriving at the earth from a cataclysmic event in the distant universe. This confirms a major prediction of Albert Einstein's 1915 general theory of relativity and opens an unprecedented new window onto the cosmos.
LIGO was originally proposed as a means of detecting these gravitational waves in the 1980s by Rainer Weiss, professor of physics, emeritus, from MIT; Kip Thorne, Caltech's Richard P. Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics, emeritus; and Ronald Drever, professor of physics, emeritus, also from Caltech.
LIGO, the most ambitious project ever funded by the National Science Foundation, consists of two L-shaped interferometers with four-kilometer-long arms; at their ends hang mirrors whose motions are measured to within one-thousandth the diameter of a proton. Managed jointly by Caltech and MIT, Initial LIGO became operational in 2001; the second-generation Advanced LIGO was dedicated on May 19, 2015. On September 14 at 2:51 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time, both of the twin LIGO detectors, located in Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington, nearly simultaneously detected the characteristic "chirp" of the black holes' fusion.
LIGO's SURF Students Look for the Perfect Wave (10/2015)
Advanced LIGO to Begin Operations (09/2015)
Dedication of Advanced LIGO (05/2015)
Building the World's Most Sensitive Detectors: A Conversation with Rana Adhikari (10/2013)
Physicists Discover New Way to Visualize Warped Space and Time (04/2011)
View the Press Conference
from the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., February 11, 2016
On September 14, 2015, LIGO observed ripples in the fabric of spacetime. This video narrative tells the story of the science behind that important detection.
This video narrative tells the story of the history and legacy of LIGO from the genesis of the idea to the detection in September 2015.
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