Advanced LIGO Dedication
The Advanced LIGO Project, a major upgrade that will increase the sensitivity of the LIGO instruments by a factor of 10 and provide a 1,000-fold increase in the number of astrophysical candidates for gravitational wave signals, was officially dedicated on May 19, 2015 in a ceremony held at the LIGO Hanford facility in Richland, Washington.
The change of more than a factor of 10 in sensitivity also comes with a significant increase in the sensitive frequency range. This will allow Advanced LIGO to look at the last minutes of the life of pairs of massive black holes as they spiral closer, coalesce into one larger black hole, and then vibrate much like two soap bubbles becoming one. It will also allow the instrument to pinpoint periodic signals from the many known pulsars that radiate in the range from 500 to 1,000 Hertz (frequencies that correspond to high notes on an organ).
Advanced LIGO will also be used to search for the gravitational cosmic background—allowing tests of theories about the development of the universe only 10-35 seconds after the Big Bang.
LIGO was designed and is operated by Caltech and MIT, with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Advanced LIGO, also funded by the NSF, will begin its first searches for gravitational waves in the fall of this year.
Above, left to right: LIGO Executive Director David Reitze; NSF Director France Cordova; Caltech President Thomas Rosenbaum.