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First Detection of Gravitational Waves

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.

When Two Black Holes

On October 3, 2017, 11:45 am, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics to Rainer Weiss, Barry C. Barish and Kip S. Thorne "for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves".

Nobel Prize Awarded for Direct Gravitational Wave Detection with Advanced LIGO


Rainer Weiss, Barry C. Barish, Kip S. Thorne

The University of Florida was the first institution beyond CalTech and MIT which joined the LIGO collaboration. It took responsibility of the Input Optics and developed a suite of data analysis tools. This work ultimately culminated in the first detection of gravitational waves.

University of Florida Contributes Key Technologies and Data Analysis Tools to LIGO Detectors

Input Optics, optical configuration

Detection algorithms

Signal Date Detectors Event Mass (M) Distance (light-years) Status
GW170814 2017-08-14 LIGO-L, LIGO-H, Virgo Binary black hole merger 31 + 25 ⇒ 53 1.8 × 109 confirmed
GW170104 2017-01-04 LIGO-L, LIGO-H Binary black hole merger 31 + 19 ⇒ 49 2.9 × 109 confirmed
GW151226 2015-12-26 LIGO-L, LIGO-H Binary black hole merger 14 + 8 ⇒ 21 1.4 × 109 confirmed
LVT151012 2015-10-12 LIGO-L, LIGO-H Binary black hole merger 23 + 13 ⇒ 35 3.3 × 109 candidate (2σ)
GW150914 2015-09-14 LIGO-L, LIGO-H Binary black hole merger 36 + 29 ⇒ 62 1.3 × 109 confirmed

Advanced LIGO Detectors

LIGO are two multi-kilometer-scale gravitational wave detectors that use laser interferometry to measure tiny ripples in space-time caused by passing gravitational waves. LIGO consists of two widely separated interferometers within the United States, one in Hanford, Washington and the other in Livingston, Louisiana.