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News

June 15, 2016

GW151226: Observation of Gravitational Waves from a 22-Solar-Mass Binary Black Hole Coalescence

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February 18, 2016

The Right Place At The Right Spacetime

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February 11, 2016

Observation of Gravitational Waves from a Binary Black Hole Merger

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Overview

When Einstein published the special theory of relativity a century ago, it signaled the start of his decade long quest to develop a theory of gravitation that was consistent with his newly developed insights into space and time. It is now more than 90 years since Einstein first wrote the field equations of general relativity and revolutionized our understanding of gravitation. Since then, the theory has passed every experimental test to date and has provided both dramatic predictions and explanations of physical phenomena in the Universe.

One of these predictions are gravitational waves, ripples in space-time caused by objects whose motion is accelerated and not perfectly spherically symmetric. Supernovae, gamma ray bursts and compact binary systems are amongst the expected main sources of gravitational waves. The first experimental evidence, albeit indirect, come in 1979 from the study of a binary pulsar by Hulse and Taylor.

Detection of gravitational waves will certainly open a new window to the universe. As it happened with the first infrared or X-ray observations, gravitational wave data could reveal all kind of new and unsuspected phenomena. As opposed to electromagnetic radiation, gravitational waves can pass through any matter without being affected and they can be used to probe objects almost invisible any other way, like black holes and neutron stars. Also, the cosmic gravitational wave background, produced earlier than the microwave one, will provide us with a new way to study the earlier universe.

The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) is an ambitious project aimed to detect gravitational waves from astrophysical sources. LIGO began its search in 2002, making use of state-of-the-art technology. In 2004, the National Science Board reaffirmed its long-term commitment to gravitational wave astrophysics by approving the Advanced LIGO upgrade to the interferometers. These improvements, when fully implemented in 2014, will render the Advanced LIGO detectors ten times more sensitive than the initial ones. This should bring LIGO into an era of routine astronomical observations.


UWM Ligo Scientific Collaboration | http://www.lsc-group.phys.uwm.edu/ | contact@gravity.phys.uwm.edu