Plenary I Speaker David Reitze: A Historic "We Did It!"
On Sept. 14, 2015 at 5:51 a.m. EST, a very specific set of 40 kg mirrors moved in a very specific way — a distance thousands of times smaller than a proton — and humanity entered a new era.
David Reitze, executive director of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), delivered a historic “We did it!” to announce the first ever confirmed detection of gravitational waves, and we began our story of studying the universe like never before. At Monday’s Plenary presentation Reitze explained the path to the first observation of gravitational waves and what the global team is doing now with Advanced LIGO.
With a 24:1 signal to noise ratio, the most stable optical system ever built measured a gravitational wave's low frequency effect through distance changes of about 10-18 m, or about 1/1,000 the diameter of a proton.
Both of LIGO’s identical facilities detected the famous chirp, rising in frequency from 35 to 250 Hz, as the gravitational wave ripple made its way through each of the runway-sized interferometers. The sister observatories, located in Hanford, WA (data shown in orange) and Livingston, LA (data shown in blue), measured the same wave with the 7 ms delay one would expect from light-speed propagation.
All of those solutions and cutting edge developments led to a gravitational wave observatory operating just in time to pick up the after effects of two black holes merging into one, 1.3 billion light years away. The sub-nuclear sized motions of LIGO’s mirrors brought an end to this decades-long quest for that first signal, and a beginning to a new era of measuring the universe.
Note: This plenary recap was sourced from photonicsonline.com, written by Julia H. Majors.
Posted: 7 June 2016 by
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