Gravitational Observatory LIGO resumed its work

Гравитационная обсерватория LIGO возобновила свою работу

The gravitational wave detector LIGO has officially resumed its work after almost a year break due to an update of the Observatory and the failure of one of the lasers, reports the news service of the journal Science.

“At the first stage, which lasted only four months, we recorded two bursts of gravitational waves generated by merging black holes. Increased sensitivity and longer observation will allow us to find even more such events that will improve our understanding of the behavior of black holes. Only now, thanks to LIGO, we have the opportunity to understand the occurrence of such merger,” said David Reitze (David Reitze), Executive Director of the LIGO project.

The gravitational wave detector LIGO has been built in 2002 on projects and plans that have been developed by a Kip Thorne, Rainer Weiss and Ronald Drever in the late 80’s of the last century. In the first stage of its work, which lasted 8 years, LIGO has failed to detect the “Einstein” fluctuations in space-time, after which the detector was disabled and the next 4 years, scientists have spent on upgrading it and increasing sensitivity.

These efforts proved in September last year, virtually immediately after switching on the upgraded LIGO, scientists detected a burst of gravitational waves generated by merging black holes with total mass in 53 of the Sun. Subsequently, LIGO recorded two bursts of gravitational waves, only one of which was officially recognized by the scientific community.

In early January of last year, LIGO has been disabled, and the subsequent 11 months, the researchers spent on the upgrade of the detector and fix broken or incorrectly working systems. Today LIGO was officially returned to service, and both detector Observatory, built in Livingston and Hanford, will watch the space for six months.

According to Reitze and other participants in the project, LIGO engineers have managed to increase the sensitivity of the detector in Livingston by 25% by increasing the laser power and the elimination of the optical noise generated by ambient light. Overall, the sensitivity of LIGO is only increased by 10%, which will allow astronomers to observe more distant black holes and other sources of gravitational waves.

After six months, LIGO will again be stopped in order to further increase the sensitivity. How to tell the scientists, in the coming years they want to increase the sensitivity of detectors is about two times, which will, according to their calculations, to observe the mergers of black holes at least once a day. The accumulation of data on similar disasters will help to understand how often black holes in the Universe, what properties they have and how they affect the evolution of galaxies.