Gravitational waves carry information about their origins and about the nature of gravity that cannot otherwise be obtained. Image Credit: NASA
The National Science Foundation’s LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) is set to resume its hunt for gravitational waves – ripples in space and time – on 1 April 2019, after receiving a series of upgrades to its lasers, mirrors, and other components. LIGO—which consists of twin detectors located in Washington and Louisiana, both in the United States – now has a combined increase in sensitivity of about 40 percent over its last run, which means that it can survey an even larger volume of space than before for powerful, wave-making events, such as the collisions of black holes.
Joining the search will be Virgo, the European-based gravitational-wave detector, located at the European Gravitational Observatory (EGO) in Italy, which has almost doubled its sensitivity since its last run and is also starting up 1 April 2019.
“For this third observational run, we achieved significantly greater improvements to the detectors’ sensitivity than we did for the last run,” says Peter Fritschel, LIGO’s chief detector scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). “And with LIGO and Virgo observing together for the next ...