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The Shadow of the Black Hole$
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John W. Moffat

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780190650728

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190650728.001.0001

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The Biggest Ears in the Sky: LIGO

The Biggest Ears in the Sky: LIGO

(p.108) 7 The Biggest Ears in the Sky: LIGO
The Shadow of the Black Hole

John W. Moffat

Oxford University Press

At a press conference on February 11, 2016, David Reitz, LIGO Executive Director, announced, “We did it!” They detected gravitational waves for the first time. Both LIGO sites, in Washington state and Louisiana, registered the incoming gravitational waves from two black holes colliding and merging far away. Over the following months, more mergers were detected. Gravitational waves are caused by the acceleration of a massive object, which stretches and compresses spacetime in a wave-like motion that is incredibly small and difficult to detect. Numerical relativity research over decades has produced over a quarter of a million template solutions of Einstein’s equations. The best template fit to the wave form data identifies the masses and spins of the two merging black holes. Much of this chapter describes the technology of the LIGO apparatus. On October 3, 2017, Barish, Thorne, and Weiss, the founders of LIGO, received the Nobel Prize for Physics.

Keywords:   gravitational wave detection, LIGO observatory, Virgo observatory, merging black holes, gravitational waves explained, numerical relativity, black hole templates, 2017 Nobel Prize

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