First-ever open public alerts now available from LIGO

phys.org | 4/8/2019 | Staff
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Two new probable gravitational waves—ripples in the fabric of spacetime caused by cataclysmic cosmic events and first predicted by Albert Einstein over 100 years ago—have been detected by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) and the Virgo observatory in Italy in the first weeks after the detectors were updated. The source of both waves is believed to be the merging of a pair of black holes.

LIGO announced the discovery of the first new gravitational wave in its first-ever open public alert on April 8, and quickly followed up with a second announcement on April 12. LIGO detected the first-ever gravitational wave in September 2015, and announced the discovery in February 2016. Ten more gravitational waves were detected over the following three years, but with updates to LIGO and Virgo, scientists expect to see as many as one per week, which so far has proven true.

Updates - LIGO - Virgo - Sensitivity - Percent

Updates to LIGO and Virgo have combined to increase its sensitivity by about 40 percent over its last run. Additionally, with this third observing run, LIGO and Virgo transitioned to a system whereby they alert the astronomy community almost immediately of a potential gravitational wave detection. This allows electromagnetic telescopes (X-ray, UV, optical, radio) to search for and hopefully find an electromagnetic signal from the same source, which can be key to understanding the dynamics of the event.

The Penn State team of LIGO scientists, led by Chad Hanna, associate professor of physics and of astronomy and astrophysics, Freed Early Career Professor, and Institute for CyberScience faculty co-hire at Penn State, played a critical role.

Penn - State - Part - Team - LIGO

"Penn State is part of a small team of LIGO scientists that analyze the data in almost real-time," said Cody Messick, a graduate student in physics at Penn State and member of the LIGO team. "We are constantly comparing the data to hundreds...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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