LIGO research is carried out by the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC), a group of more than 1000 scientists from universities in the US and 14 other countries. More than 90 universities and research institutes in the LSC develop detector technology and analyse data; approximately 250 students are strong contributing members of the collaboration.
The LSC detector network includes the LIGO interferometers and the GEO600 detector. The GEO team includes scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute (AEI)), Leibniz Universität Hannover, along with partners at the University of Glasgow, Cardiff University, and other universities in the UK, funded by Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). Significant computer resources have been contributed by the AEI Atlas cluster, the LIGO Laboratory, Syracuse University, and the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.
LIGO was originally proposed as a means of detecting these gravitational waves in the 1980s by Rainer Weiss, professor of physics, emeritus, from MIT; Kip Thorne, Caltech’s Richard P Feynman, Professor of Theoretical Physics, emeritus; and Ronald Drever, professor of physics, emeritus, also from Caltech.
Virgo research is carried out by the Virgo Scientific Collaboration, a group of more than 250 physicists and engineers from 18 different European laboratories, six from Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in France, eight from Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN) in Italy, Nikhef in the Netherlands, the Wigner Institute in Hungary, the POLGRAW group in Poland and the European Gravitational Observatory (EGO), the laboratory hosting the Virgo interferometer.
The discovery was made possible by the enhanced capabilities of Advanced LIGO, a major upgrade that increases the sensitivity of the instruments compared to the first-generation LIGO detectors, enabling a large increase in the volume of the universe probed – and the discovery of gravitational waves during its first observation run.
The US National Science Foundation leads in financial support for Advanced LIGO. Funding organisations in Germany (Max Planck Society), the UK (STFC) and Australia (Australian Research Council) also have made significant commitments to the project. Several of the key technologies that made Advanced LIGO much more sensitive have been developed and tested by the German UK GEO collaboration.
Professor David Blair (UWA School of Physics) (+61 8) 6488 2736 / (+61 4) 09 687 703
David Stacey (UWA Media and Public Relations Manager) (+61 8) 6488 3229 / (+61 4) 32 637 716
Jess Reid (UWA Media and Public Relations Officer) (+61 8) 6488 6876