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LIGO Lab and LSC release strain data from Science Run 6

10 June 2015 -- The LIGO Laboratory and the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC) are pleased to announce the public release of strain data taken by the project's two gravitational wave detectors during LIGO's sixth science run (S6) that occurred from July 2009 through October 2010. This release follows the release of the LIGO S5 data in August 2014.

LIGO's S6 observing run was conducted in coordination with the Virgo detector's Science Runs 2 and 3 (VSR2, VSR3), and with observations by the SWIFT space telescope and numerous ground-based wide-field optical telescopes. Two LIGO detectors, H1 at LIGO Hanford Observatory (LHO) and L1 at LIGO Livingston Observatory (LLO), had been upgraded to "Enhanced LIGO" for S6; the principal upgrades included higher-power lasers, a new readout scheme, and an output mode cleaner mounted on active seismic isolation. The third LIGO detector, H2 at LHO, was retired in 2009 in preparation for its upgrade in the Advanced LIGO program.

The LIGO data release comes with detailed metadata, tutorials, tools and software that will help public users perform effective analyses. The release will promote broad participation in the advancement of gravitational wave physics and astrophysics from professional and amateur scientists, graduate students, undergraduates and secondary students. Participants are invited to help improve the quality of LIGO's scientific results, including the verification of results already produced by the LSC.

The LSC has analyzed LIGO's S6 data; no gravitational wave candidate signals were found in the LSC searches. LIGO will release data from the upgraded Advanced LIGO detectors that will begin operating in 2015. LIGO expects that such releases could include gravitational wave signals. Should regular gravitational wave detections begin to occur, public participation in LIGO data analysis will add an exciting dimension to gravitational wave astronomy. Numerical relativists, relativity theorists, astrophysicists and others will use LIGO data to better understand the dynamics of strongly curved spacetime along with the origins and properties of gravitational wave sources.

LIGO anticipates that data analysis in the LSC will improve as a result of this effort to make releases that the broader community can easily understand and use. The international network of gravitational wave observatories continues to move toward a model of shared data analysis; the public release program will facilitate the growth of this global capability.

Please visit the LIGO Open Science Center (LOSC) website for access to data downloads and tutorial materials. This site provides resources that will help participants understand LIGO data and gravitational wave science. LIGO encourages users to register for the LOSC email list. List subscribers will stay informed of updates and future releases, and can send questions and comments to the LOSC development team.

The LIGO Laboratory is operated by Caltech and MIT for the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF). The LIGO Open Science Center is supported by NSF awards 1210172 and 0757058.

Read more: LIGO Open Science Center (LOSC)

A plot of LIGO and Virgo sensitivity

Histogram of LIGO and Virgo sensitivity to binary neutron star mergers in S6.
Image credit: Caltech/MIT/LIGO Lab

A histogram of LIGO and Virgo sensitivity

Timeline of LIGO S6 data from H1 and L1 detectors, 2009-2010
Image credit: Caltech/MIT/LIGO Lab

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