LIGO first detects gravitational waves
One hundred years after Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves, scientists have finally spotted these elusive ripples in space-time.
In a highly anticipated announcement, physicists with the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) revealed on 11 February that their twin detectors have heard the gravitational 'ringing' produced by the collision of two black holes about 400 megaparsecs (1.3 billion light-years) from Earth1, 2.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we have detected gravitational waves,” David Reitze, the executive director of the LIGO Laboratory, said at a Washington DC press conference. “We did it!”
— Nature article on the first observation of gravitational waves
The importance of the chirp recorded by LIGO (for Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) cannot be overstated. It strongly bolsters Einstein’s theory of relativity and it potentially changes the shape of scientific inquiry into the next century, opening whole new fields of astronomical observation. It testifies to the ingenuity and perseverance of the physicists who designed the equipment, and it vindicates an investment of about $1.1 billion over 40 years by the National Science Foundation.
— The Chirp Heard Across the Universe, opinion article on The New York Times