LIGO Document G1000096-v1

LIGO and the Search for Gravitational Waves

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G - Presentations (eg Graphics)
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The Laser Interferometric Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) is poised to open a new window on the universe - the detection of gravitational waves from distant large-scale astrophysical sources such as colliding black hole and supernovae. Gravitational waves were predicted by Einstein almost 100 years ago but never observed directly despite a number of experiments over the last 40 years. Gravitational waves are miniscule dynamic strains applied to space-time by motion of massive objects. A passing gravitational wave will modulate the distance between two mirrors (‘test masses’) in the arms of an interferometer. Direct observation of gravitational waves presents a formidable challenge, because the effect is expected to be infinitesimal, less than one part in 10^{22}.

While gravitational waves sources are inherently astrophysical in nature, the ability to detect gravitational waves relies on many fields of physics and optics that have little to do with astrophysics. In the first part of the presentation, I will give a general overview of gravitational waves - what they are and where they come from – and describe the techniques that gravitational wave astrophysicists use to hunt for them. In the second part of the presentation, I will describe the LIGO interferometers, highlight the roles that other physics plays in detecting gravitational waves, discuss the worldwide gravitational wave detector network and report on what we’ve learned from our searches thus far. Time permitting, I’ll discuss plans for a new generation of gravitational wave detectors to be built in the next decade.

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LIGO astrophysics
Notes and Changes:
The ppt has animations, so use that one if possible.

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