Marshall Joins the Hunt for Gravitational Waves
On September 14, 2015 a new observational field of astrophysics was born with the discovery of gravitational waves from colliding black holes by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO). Gravitational waves were first predicted by Einstein's general theory of relativity 100 years prior to their discovery. With the ground-breaking observations, scientists have a new tool for understanding the most violent events in the universe, and can use gravitational waves as a laboratory to probe fundamental physics questions otherwise inaccessible to experiments.
Science investigations using the LIGO observatories are carried out by the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC)--a group of approximately 1000 scientists from more than 80 institutions in 15 countries around the globe. Marshall Space Flight Center became a member of the LSC to conduct research in the detection and characterization of gravitational wave sources. After the successful first observing run, the LIGO observatories have been offline undergoing upgrades to the facilities as they continue to march towards their full design sensitivity. LIGO will resume observations in late 2016, this time with Marshall poised to contribute to the next great discoveries.
Image Credit: SXS, the Simulating eXtreme Spacetimes (SXS) project (http://www.black-holes.org)