THE VIRGO COLLABORATION / CCO 1.0 / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY THE VIRGO COLLABORATION / CCO 1.0 / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Aerial photograph of the Virgo interferometer, Cascina, Italy, which was designed to detect gravitational waves. The detector has two perpendicular ultra-high vacuum arms that each measure three kilometres long and that have lasers running through them. Any gravitational waves that hit the detector would cause small changes in these lasers. Gravitational waves are ripples in the curvature of spacetime that travel outward from a central source. They were predicted by Einstein in 1916, and remained undetected until observed by another two detectors, LIGO in the USA, on the 14th September 2015. On the 14th August 2017 Virgo recorded its first gravitational wave signal. The signal, from two colliding black holes, was also recorded by the Ligo detectors.
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