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Observing Plans and Public Alerts

LIGO-Virgo Observing plans

The LIGO and Virgo teams are working on improving the performance of their instruments, with the objective of starting the third observing run (O3) early in 2019. The current schedule for commissioning, engineering runs, and observing is sketched in the graphic below (LIGO DCC: G1801056; last updated 17 September 2018).

A new target date for ER13 has been set to mid-November (a shift of one month from mid-October). This is to allow more time for development of the new EM low-latency infrastructure, and more time to measure a first low-noise spectrum for both LIGO instruments. An update of the O3 start date will be issued as soon as both LIGO instruments are back in low-noise mode, so we can assess how much more commissioning time is needed to bring them to the O3 target sensitivity. As of mid-September 2018, Hanford has been relocked on its operating point, although not yet in low-noise mode; Livingston has completed all of the hardware work and beginning of commissioning with the full interferometer is imminent. Virgo has made progress in sensitivity commissioning but not yet at the O3 target. We plan to provide an update for the O3 schedule soon (which may or may not involve a shift from the dates shown below).


observing plan timeline

Further information on the planned sensitivity, possible detection rates, and other details of interest can be found in the presentations for the Observer Town Halls of March and April 2018. An overview for LIGO, Virgo, and KAGRA Observing Scenarios can be found at this Living Reviews in Relativity article.


Open Public Alerts in O3

The LIGO-Virgo (LV) Collaborations will issue Open, Public Alerts (OPA) for gravitational-wave transient event detections, starting with the next observing run of the instruments early in 2019. OPAs will enable the physics and astronomy community to pursue multi-messenger observations of gravitational-wave sources and maximize the science reach of the gravitational-wave instruments, in consistency with our data management plan.

In anticipation, we invite the physics and astronomy community interested in the multi-messenger aspects of gravitational wave science to join a new "open forum". This Open LV-EM forum has no MoU requirements for joining or for participation. It is intended to facilitate the free exchange of information and ideas among gravitational-wave, electromagnetic, neutrino, and cosmic-ray astronomers. Details on how to join can be found here.

We held two Town Hall meetings for the community interested in the multi-messenger science enabled by the LIGO-Virgo OPAs: one in Cambridge, Massachusetts (March 16-17, 2018), the other in Amsterdam, Netherlands (April 12-13, 2018). The presentations are a good source of additional information on the plans of the Collaborations and some Observers. Pointers to presentations made at those Town Halls can be found at this web page.

We look forward to your participation in this new and exciting era of multi-messenger science with gravitational-waves.

If you have any questions, please contact the Spokespersons:
David Shoemaker (Spokesperson, LIGO Scientific Collaboration); Laura Cadonati (Deputy Spokesperson); lsc-spokesperson@ligo.org
Jo van den Brand (Spokesperson, Virgo Collaboration); virgo-spokesperson@ego-gw.it


triangulation of GW170817

GW170817 Localization and Triangulation Annuli. We can pinpoint sources like GW170817 much more accurately now that we can triangulate the signal between Hanford, Livingston, and Virgo. The rapid Hanford-Livingston localization is shown in blue, and the final Hanford-Livingston-Virgo localization is in green. The gray rings are one-sigma triangulation constraints from the three detector pairs. [Credit: LIGO/Virgo/NASA/Leo Singer (Milky Way image: Axel Mellinger)]

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