ESA decides to study the invisible Universe
28 November 2013 - The gravitational Universe will be one of the two science themes to be explored by European Space Agency's (ESA) next two large missions, the agency's Science Programme Committee decided. The suggested mission to probe the gravitational Universe, called the evolved Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (eLISA), will study the universe in a unique way by detecting gravitational waves.
LIGO Goes to the Rockies
7 August 2013 - The touring version of Astronomy's New Messengers will take to the road again to delight children and adults alike at the 2013 Aspen Science Festival Science Street Fair, a daylong event featuring a non-stop program of interactive exhibits, experiments, games, and shows that will be held this year on August 11, 2013 in Paepcke Park, Aspen, Colorado. Astronomy's New Messengers will once more showcase LIGO's cool technology to observe the Universe not through light but through gravity. Gravitational waves - ripples of space-time - were theorized by Einstein almost a century ago. LIGO now pushes the frontiers of science and engineering to try and catch these waves for the first time, and explore the death throes of stars, black hole collisions, even the origin of the Universe in a way humans never have before.
The LIGO Scientific Collaboration and the Virgo Collaboration completed an end-to-end system test of their detection capabilities at their recent joint collaboration meeting in Arcadia, CA. Analysis of data from LIGO and Virgo's most recent observation run revealed evidence of the elusive signal from a neutron star spiraling into a black hole. The collaboration knew that the "detection" could be a "blind injection" -- a fake signal added to the data without telling the analysts, to test the detector and analysis. Nonetheless, the collaboration proceeded under the assumption that the signal was real, and wrote and approved a scientific paper reporting the ground-breaking discovery. A few moments later, according to plan, it was revealed that the signal was indeed a blind injection.
While the scientists were disappointed that the discovery was not real, the success of the analysis was a compelling demonstration of the collaboration's readiness to detect gravitational waves. LIGO and Virgo scientists are looking forward to observations with the advanced detectors which are expected to contain many real signals from the distant reaches of the universe.
The NASA Swift Observatory
The NASA Swift observatory is a low earth orbit satellite whose primary mission is to investigate gamma ray bursts. Swift is working with LIGO and Virgo performing target of opportunity observations using data from the LIGO and Virgo instruments to search for possible gravitational wave sources.