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LIGO and Virgo Form Alliance

Photonics Spectra
Apr 2007
A collaborative effort has been formed to search for gravitational waves from sources in and beyond the Milky Way galaxy and to pinpoint the source of the signals. The waves were predicted by Albert Einstein in 1916 but have not been directly observed. The collaboration will link data from three Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors in the US, from the GEO600 German-British interferometer project in Schäferberg, Germany, and from the Virgo interferometric gravitational-wave detector at the European Gravitational Observatory in Cascina, Italy.

The agreement calls for data sharing to begin when the sensitivity and the duty cycle of the interferometers allow a significant contribution to joint searches for the waves. The Virgo collaboration comprises scientists from institutions in France, Italy and the Netherlands. The LIGO Scientific Collaboration includes members of the GEO600 project. LIGO is operated by California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and MIT in Cambridge, Mass.


GLOSSARY
gravitational waves
Postulated by Einstein in his theory of relativity. They are waves traveling at the speed of light and exerting force on matter in their path. They are produced by changes in the distribution of matter.
photonics
The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
sensitivity
In a radiation detector, the ratio of the output to the input signal.
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