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£25 million boost in the search for gravitational waves

Published : Tuesday, 19 February, 2019 at 12:32 PM  Count : 599

The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (Ligo), which has two facilities in the US, will undergo an upgrade to improve the sensitivity of its instruments. A Ligo technician inspects one of the mirrors (file photo)

The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (Ligo), which has two facilities in the US, will undergo an upgrade to improve the sensitivity of its instruments. A Ligo technician inspects one of the mirrors (file photo)


The international project which first detected gravitational waves in 2015 is set to receive a £25 million upgrade.

It is hoped the investment will improve the sensitivity of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) and allow them to study more of deep space.

Scientists hope to see a significant increase in the number and strength of their detections from 2024.

Researchers from the University of Glasgow are involved in the ground-breaking project which made history in 2015.

It successfully detected ripples in spacetime known as gravitational waves.

The phenomena was first predicted by Albert Einstein in 1916 and are generated by cataclysmic cosmic events, such as collisions between black holes or super-dense neutron stars.

Professor Sheila Rowan, from the University of Glasgow, said: 'In the three years since LIGO's first detection of gravitational waves, we've observed a remarkable string of cosmic events, including a series of black hole collisions and a neutron star merger, the majority of which would have gone unnoticed here on Earth without the advent of gravitational wave astronomy.

'This announcement of new funding for Advanced Ligo Plus ensures that we'll continue to build on these strong foundations by making the detectors even more sensitive to the vibrations of spacetime.

'We expect the steady stream of detections we've enjoyed so far to turn into a torrent, providing us with invaluable new data about our universe.'

The LIGO facility is made up of two pipes which form an L shape, laser beams and mirrors, which can detect gravitational waves as they reach Earth.

A passing gravitational wave changes the shape of space by a tiny amount, and the LIGO was built with the ability to measure a change in distance just one-ten-thousandth the width of a proton.

The upgrade, known as Advanced LIGO Plus, will be aided by more than £10 million from UK Research and Innovation.


Related Topics

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