CALTECH / MIT / LIGO LAB / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY CALTECH / MIT / LIGO LAB / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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LIGO gravitational wave detector laser. Engineer viewing the laser and vacuum equipment area (LVEA) for the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO). LIGO compares measurements between two detector sites 3000 kilometres apart in Washington and Louisiana, USA. Each site is an L-shaped ultra-high vacuum system, four kilometres long on each side. Laser interferometers are used to look for small changes caused by gravitational waves. LIGO has been operating since 2002, with an advanced upgrade (aLIGO) operating since 2015. On 11th February 2016 it was announced that gravitational waves had been detected by LIGO. The signal was detected on 14th September 2015, and was the result of two black holes colliding 1.3 billion years ago. Photographed at the Hanford site on 26 June 2014.
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