The Detection of Gravitational Waves


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In addition, the event known as GW was the most massive and distant gravitational-wave source observed to date. In addition to involving a black hole pair that had a combined mass more than 50 times that of the Sun, the merger took place 5 billion years ago and released the equivalent of almost five solar masses in the form of gravitational radiation.


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Looking ahead, the team hopes to make more discoveries during the third observing run O3 of Advanced LIGO and Virgo, which is planned to start in early With these upgrades and the addition of KAGRA, many tens of GW events resulting from the merger of binary systems are anticipated in the coming years.

These latest results also offer further validation of the LIGO and Virgo observatories instruments, as well as the effectiveness of the international collaboration behind them. In so doing, they will be able to learn more about the population of binary systems that cause GW events, not to mention the rate at which these types of mergers take place.

Two at once

Further Reading: Albert Einstein Institute. Skip to content. Like this: Like Loading Previous Post Previous Carnival of Space At each observatory, the two-and-a-half-mile 4km long L-shaped LIGO interferometer uses laser light split into two beams that travel back and forth down the arms four-foot diameter tubes kept under a near-perfect vacuum. The beams are used to monitor the distance between mirrors precisely positioned at the ends of the arms.

Glasgow scientists discuss the second gravitational wave detection and the future of gravitational wave astronomy. The Institute for Gravitational Research led on the conception, development, construction and installation of sensitive mirror suspensions in the heart of the LIGO detectors, which were crucial to the three detections.

Those suspensions rely on delicate micron-wide fibres made from silica. Despite their fragility, each suspension fibre is very strong, capable of holding up to 70kg.

LIGO upgrade to allow 'almost daily' detection of gravitational waves – Physics World

In the LIGO detectors, the mirror suspensions hold 40kg mirrors and keep them from being interfered with any outside force or vibration except for gravitational waves. The mirrors are held so still by the suspensions that the LIGO detectors can detect movements caused by gravitational waves close to one-ten-thousandth the diameter of a proton.

Nonetheless, that finding convinced me that we would one day find the evidence we were looking for.

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Alongside their success in the ground-based LIGO detection, Glasgow scientists play a crucial role in the development of a space-based gravitational wave observatory. Not all cosmic events that produce gravitational waves can be sensed by ground-based detectors.

To Hunt Gravitational Waves, Scientists Had to Create the Quietest Spot on Earth

The ground-based signals seen by LIGO have a frequency of around Hz, but gravitational waves span a much broader spectrum. In particular, lower-frequency oscillations are produced by even more exotic events such as the mergers of supermassive black holes. To detect these events and fully exploit the new field of gravitational astronomy, it is crucial to open access to gravitational waves at low frequencies between 0.

LIGO Detects Gravitational Waves

This requires measuring tiny fluctuations in distance between objects placed millions of kilometres apart, something that can only be achieved in space. An observatory in space also has the bonus of being free of the seismic, thermal and terrestrial gravity noises that limit ground-based detectors.


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  • A crucial aspect of the mission was placing two test masses in freefall, monitoring their relative positions as they move under the effect of gravity alone. Even in space this is very difficult, as several forces, including the solar wind and pressure from sunlight, continually disturb the cubes and the spacecraft.

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    Thus, in LISA Pathfinder, a pair of identical 2kg, 46mm gold—platinum cubes, 38cm apart, fly surrounded but untouched by a spacecraft whose job is to shield them from external influences, adjusting its position constantly to avoid hitting them. Results from only two months of science operations showed that the two cubes at the heart of the spacecraft are falling freely through space under the influence of gravity alone, unperturbed by other external forces, to a precision more than five times better than originally required.


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      The Detection of Gravitational Waves The Detection of Gravitational Waves
      The Detection of Gravitational Waves The Detection of Gravitational Waves
      The Detection of Gravitational Waves The Detection of Gravitational Waves
      The Detection of Gravitational Waves The Detection of Gravitational Waves
      The Detection of Gravitational Waves The Detection of Gravitational Waves
      The Detection of Gravitational Waves The Detection of Gravitational Waves
      The Detection of Gravitational Waves The Detection of Gravitational Waves
      The Detection of Gravitational Waves The Detection of Gravitational Waves

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