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  • Funding to Improve Global Gravitational Wave Network
    Aerial views of LIGO Hanford Observatory. (Credit: LIGO Laboratory)

Funding to Improve Global Gravitational Wave Network

Mar 30 2019 Read 227 Times

The lead funding agencies of the global gravitational wave observatories have announced an upgrade to facilities that will almost double the network’s sensitivity.

The $US30 million Advanced LIGO Plus (ALIGO+) project will improve the two existing Laser Interferometer Gravitational wave Observatories (LIGO) in the United States and will be included as standard in the new LIGO India facility from the mid-2020s.

The US National Science Foundation is providing $20.4 million funding for ALIGO+ and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) £10.7 million ($US14.1 million), with additional support from the Australian Research Council.

NSF Director France Córdova said: “This award ensures that LIGO, which made the first historic detection of gravitational waves in 2015, will continue to lead in gravitational wave science for the next decade.

“With improvements to the detectors – which include techniques from quantum mechanics that refine laser light and new mirror coating technology – the twin LIGO observatories will significantly increase the number and strength of their detections.

Advanced LIGO Plus will reveal gravity at its strongest and matter at its densest in some of the most extreme environments in the cosmos.

“These detections may reveal secrets from inside supernovae and teach us about extreme physics from the first seconds after the universe's birth.”

The enhanced capabilities afforded by ALIGO+ are expected to illuminate the origins and evolution of stellar-mass black holes, allow precision tests of extreme gravity, enable detailed study of the equation of state of neutron stars and permit new tests of cosmology, including fully independent constraints on the Hubble constant.

Technology improvements arising from the project are expected to include quantum optics, quantum information theory, materials science, optical technology, precision metrology and physical standards.

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