press releases

Jun 15, 2016
Gravitational Waves Detected from Second Pair of Colliding Black Holes

Complete Press Release

Feb 11, 2016
Gravitational Waves Detected 100 Years After Einstein's Prediction

LIGO Opens New Window on the Universe with Observation of Gravitational Waves from Colliding Black Holes

WASHINGTON, DC/Cascina, Italy

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.

Gravitational waves carry information about their dramatic origins and about the nature of gravity that cannot otherwise be obtained. Physicists have concluded that the detected gravitational waves were produced during the final fraction of a second of the merger of two black holes to produce a single, more massive spinning black hole. This collision of two black holes had been predicted but never observed.

The gravitational waves were detected on September 14, 2015 at 5:51 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (09:51 UTC) by both of the twin Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors, located in Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington, USA. The LIGO Observatories are funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and were conceived, built, and are operated by Caltech and MIT. The discovery, accepted for publication in the journal Physical Review Letters, was made by the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (which includes the GEO Collaboration and the Australian Consortium for Interferometric Gravitational Astronomy) and the Virgo Collaboration using data from the two LIGO detectors.

Complete Press Release

May 19, 2015
Dedication of Advanced LIGO

The Advanced LIGO Project, a major upgrade that will increase the sensitivity of the LIGO instruments, was officially dedicated in a ceremony held at the LIGO Hanford facility in Richland, Washington. More about Advanced LIGO Dedication.

Aug 24, 2011
New LIGO Executive Director Named

David Reitze has been named executive director of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), designed and operated by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Reitze has also been named a senior research associate at Caltech. More about the appointment of David Reitze.

Aug 19, 2009
LIGO Listens for Gravitational Echoes of the Birth of the Universe

An investigation by the LIGO Scientific Collaboration and the Virgo Collaboration has significantly advanced our understanding of the early evolution of the universe. More about gravitational wave background of early Universe.

Jun 2, 2008
LIGO Observations Probe the Dynamics of the Crab Pulsar

The search for gravitational waves has revealed new information about the core of one of the most famous objects in the sky: the Crab Pulsar in the Crab Nebula. An analysis by the international LIGO Scientific Collaboration to be submitted to Astrophysical Journal Letters has shown that no more than 4 percent of the energy loss of the pulsar is caused by the emission of gravitational waves. More on LIGO probes of the Crab Pulsar.

Apr 1, 2008
Advanced LIGO Project Funded by National Science Foundation

The Advanced LIGO Project, an upgrade in sensitivity for LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatories), was approved by the National Science Board in its meeting on March 27. The National Science Foundation will fund the $205.12 million, seven-year project, starting with $32.75 million in 2008. This major upgrade will increase the sensitivity of the LIGO instruments by a factor of 10, giving a one thousand-fold increase in the number of astrophysical candidates for gravitational wave signals. More about NSF funding of Advanced LIGO.

Jan 2, 2008
LIGO Sheds Light on Cosmic Event

An analysis by the international LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) Scientific Collaboration has excluded one previously leading explanation for the origin of an intense gamma-ray burst that occurred last winter. Gamma-ray bursts are among the most violent and energetic events in the universe, and scientists have only recently begun to understand their origins. More about LIGO's analysis of the M31 Gamma-ray burst.

Artist's rendition of the GW151226 event.

This artist's illustration depicts the merging black hole binary systems for GW150914 (left image) and GW151226 (right image). The black hole pairs are shown together in this illustration, but were actually detected at different times, and on different parts of the sky.

The images have been scaled to show the difference in black hole masses. In the GW150914 event, the black holes were 29 and 36 times that of our Sun, while in GW151226, the two black holes weighed in at 14 and 8 solar masses.

Image credit: LIGO/A. Simonnet

A sky map showing location of the detection signal.

A SkyMap map showing location of the GW150914 detection signal. Image: Caltech/R. Hurt.

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