Installing Advanced LIGO system components into a vacuum
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Installing Advanced LIGO system components into a vacuum chamber at the LIGO detector

July 14, 2010
Louisiana State University graduate student Jeff Kissel (left) and Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatories (LIGO) senior scientist Brian O'Reilly install Advanced LIGO internal seismic isolation system components into a vacuum chamber at the Livingston, La., LIGO detector.

This major upgrade will increase the sensitivity of the LIGO instruments by a factor of 10, giving a one thousand-fold increase in the number of astrophysical candidates for gravitational wave signals. LIGO scientists expect the new instrument will see gravitational wave sources--possibly on a daily basis--with excellent signal strengths, allowing details of the waveforms to be observed and compared with theories of neutron stars, black holes and other astrophysical objects moving near the speed of light.

Gravitational waves are ripples in the fabric of space and time produced by violent events in the distant universe, for example, by the collision of two black holes or by the cores of supernova explosions. Gravitational waves are emitted by accelerating masses much in the same way as radio waves are produced by accelerating charges such as electrons in antennas. These ripples in the space-time fabric travel to Earth, bringing with them information about their violent origins and about the nature of gravity that cannot be obtained by other astronomical tools.

LIGO is jointly operated by the California Institute of Technology and MIT under a cooperative agreement between the National Science Foundation (grant PHY 07-57058) and the California Institute of Technology. To learn more about LIGO and Advanced LIGO, visit the facility Web site Here. (Date of Image: 2008)

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