Our Collaborations

The LIGO Scientific Collaboration

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The U.S. National Science Foundation Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (NSF LIGO) Laboratory is the largest member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC). Established in 1997, the LSC includes over 1200 scientists from over 100 institutions in 18 different countries. The LSC carries out the science of the LIGO Observatories in Louisiana and Washington State, and that of the GEO600 detector in Hannover, Germany. It is organized around three general areas of research: analysis of NSF LIGO data searching for gravitational waves from astrophysical sources, detector operations and characterization, and development of future large-scale gravitational-wave detectors.

As the largest member of the LSC, the NSF LIGO Laboratory plays a special role in the Collaboration, and members of the LSC play special roles in the LIGO Lab. For example, the LSC Spokesperson is a member of the LIGO Laboratory Directorate, and the Directorate is responsible for the Collaboration's scientific direction. The LIGO Lab participates fully in the Collaboration, holding (by election or by appointment) a number positions of leadership of Collaboration entities, and the Lab follows Collaboration rules for publications, presentations, and in sharing LIGO data with the greater scientific community. In turn, the Collaboration contributes significantly to the Lab’s mission of developing gravitational-wave detectors, running the Observatories, and generally furthering the field. For further information on the LSC and how to join the Collaboration, see the LSC website. See the current list of LSC institutions and the number of scientists working at each.

Graduate students and some undergraduates work within the Collaboration to engage in research for their degrees while contributing original science to the Collaboration. Many of these students continue on as scientists at the LIGO Laboratory or at many of the other institutions that are members of the LSC.


The LIGO-Virgo-KAGRA (LVK) Collaboration

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LIGO's ties with the Virgo gravitational wave detector in Italy and the KAGRA detector in Japan make up the global "LIGO-Virgo-KAGRA Collaboration"


The nature of gravitational-wave astronomy makes cooperation and collaboration between the detectors essential. Combining the data from multiple gravitational-wave detectors yields increased confidence in the signals we detect, increased sensitivity to weaker or more distant sources, and more precise measurement of the source parameters, in particular, the sky position. In addition to the twin LIGO observatories, there are two other large-scale Michelson interferometers in the world that are currently sensitive to gravitational-waves: Virgo and KAGRA. The Virgo detector is a 3-km interferometer in Cascina, Italy. It is operated by the European Gravitational Observatory and funded by INFN (Italy), CNRS (France) and Nikhef (Netherlands). The KAGRA observatory is an underground 3-km interferometer in Kamioka, Japan. It is operated by ICRR, KEK and NAOJ and funded by MEXT (Japan). The development, building, and operation of Virgo and KAGRA are managed by the Virgo Collaboration and the KAGRA Collaboration, respectively.

The LSC and the Virgo Collaboration have been carrying out joint analyses of available data sets and co-authoring observational result papers since 2010. Beginning in 2021, the KAGRA Collaboration also began co-authoring observational results from the second half of LIGO's third observing run, O3. Together, these three entities comprise the LIGO-Virgo-KAGRA Collaboration (LVK Collaboration). For information on how to cite papers by the LVK Collaboration (or the earlier LIGO-Virgo Collaboration), please see the PDF in: Brief Guide to Citing the LIGO–Virgo–KAGRA Collaboration.