The under-representation of women and minorities in science is a matter of concern that transcends national borders and affects all scientific institutions across the globe. On February 8, 2013, the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC) Council voted unanimously in favor of approving the following statement:
As members of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, we recognize the importance of diversity to enrich our research and scholarship. We pledge to provide a welcoming, inclusive environment to talented individuals regardless of characteristics such as, but not limited to, physical ability, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, or personal religious practices, and to support the professional growth of all collaboration members.
We also pledge to work to increase the numbers of women and under-represented minorities that actively participate in the LSC, to pursue recruitment, mentoring, retention and promotion of women and under-represented minority scientists and engineers and to maximize their contribution to excellence in our research. As a collaboration, we will strive to create a professional climate that encourages inclusion and that respects and values diversity.
This statement recognizes that the academic strength of the LSC is closely linked to its diversity and encourages all LSC members to sign on to this viewpoint.
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.
Reports on Progress in Physics chooses an LSC paper as one of highlights of 2009
"LIGO: The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory" is on the journal's Highlights of 2009 list.
LSC paper among NJP's "Best of 2009"
"Observation of a kilogram-scale oscillator near its quantum ground state" has been selected as one of the highlights of 2009 by New Journal of Physics.
LIGO Begins Joint Observing with the NASA Swift Satellite and with the TAROT and QUEST Wide-Field Optical Telescopes
On December 20, 2009, LIGO and Virgo began working with three telescopes - the NASA Swift satellite observatory, Télescopes à Action Rapide pour les Objets Transitoires (TAROT), and Project QUEST - to conduct searches for simultaneous gravitational wave and electromagnetic emissions from astrophysical events such as supernovae and gamma ray bursts.
The two LIGO interferometers and the Virgo interferometer analyze date to rapidly identify and triangulate possible gravitational wave candidates. The position is sent to Swift, TAROT and QUEST, which then rapidly point their telescopes toward the source location to perform follow-up X-ray observations (in the case of Swift) or optical follow-ups (for TAROT and QUEST). The observation of a gravitational wave signal together with an associated electromagnetic signal can provide a significant amount of information about the astrophysics of potential sources, for example, short hard gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) or galactic supernova. While gravitational waves have not yet been detected, the simultaneous observation of a strong gravitational wave signal together with an electromagnetic signal would provide compelling evidence for the first detection. These searches are a new way of doing gravitational wave astronomy and point the way toward the future in which gravitational wave observatories play an important role in future astronomical observations. In addition to Swift, TAROT, and QUEST, the LIGO Scientific and Virgo Collaborations are developing agreements with other wide field optical telescopes as well as with radio telescopes and neutrino detectors to search for correlated gravitational wave astrophysical phenomena.
The NASA Swift observatory is a low earth orbit satellite whose primary mission is to investigate gamma ray bursts. Télescopes à Action Rapide pour les Objets Transitoires (TAROT) operates wide-field telescopes in France and Chile and is managed by the Observatoire de Haute Provence, France. The QUEST project uses a 10 square degree camera on the ESO Schmidt telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile, and is a collaboration between Yale University, Indiana University, and Berkeley.
Astronomy's Messengers comes to universities in the southeastern US
In keeping with LIGO's continuing mission to educate the public of its activities, "Astronomy's Messengers: listening to the universe with gravitational waves", a touring exhibit developed by LSC scientists in conjunction with Lee H. Skolnick Architecture + Design Partnership is traveling in the southeastern United States. More about the exhibit including tour dates, photos, and locations.
Editorial Board of Classical and Quantum Gravity picks LIGO-GEO 600 paper among journal's 2009 highlights
At their annual meeting in June 2009, the Editorial Board of Classical and Quantum Gravity nominated a LIGO-GEO 600 paper as a highlight of the journal's 2009 publications. See the complete list of 2009 highlights.
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.