Gravitational waves detected

Albert Einstein's gravitational waves proven by LIGO

“This is truly a scientific moonshot and we did it. We landed on the moon,” said David Reitze, LIGO’s executive director.

Gravitational waves detected: Einstein would be thrilled! David Reitze and his team did it!

On September 14, 2015, scientists from the LIGO Scientific Collaboration and the Virgo Collaboration observed the collision and fusion of the two black holes by directly measuring the gravitational waves emitted during the collision using the LIGO detectors.

Watch Video: Gravitational waves from black holes discovered

LIGO: The First Observation of Gravitational Wave. Einstein confirmed.
This simulation shows how the merger would appear to our eyes if we could somehow travel in a spaceship for a closer look. It was created by solving equations from Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity using the LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) data.
The two merging black holes are each roughly 30 times the mass of the sun, with one slightly larger than the other. The event took place 1.3 billion years ago.
Stephen Hawking congratulated the LIGO Team

Gravitational waves: Einsteins theory

This detection comes 100 years after Einstein developed his revolutionary general theory of relativity that predicted their existence, and 50 years after scientists began searching for them.

This discovery has truly profound implications. Gravitational waves provide unique information on the most energetic astrophysical events, revealing insights into the nature of gravity, matter, space, and time.

Gravitational astronomy promises to change our understanding of universe. The team has opened a new window on the cosmos. Gravitational astronomy promises to change our understanding of universe.

Black holes

The stars appear warped due to the incredibly strong gravity of the black holes. The black holes warp space and time, and this causes light from the stars to curve around the black holes in a process called gravitational lensing. The ring around the black holes, known as an Einstein ring, arises from the light of all the stars in a small region behind the holes, where gravitational lensing has smeared their images into a ring.

The gravitational waves themselves would not be seen by a human near the black holes and so do not show in this video, with one important exception.

The gravitational waves that are traveling outward toward the small region behind the black holes disturb that region’s stellar images in the Einstein ring, causing them to slosh around, even long after the collision. The gravitational waves traveling in other directions cause weaker, and shorter-lived sloshing, everywhere outside the ring.

This simulation was created by the multi-university Simulating eXtreme Spacetimes (SXS) project.

Your detector was not even fully adjusted

Your detector had just been refurbished and was not even fully adjusted.

Reitze: “We were stunned, immediately a signal. Boom! Everybody who saw it, immediately knew this had to be real..!.”

Now, the big question is how often such violent events arise in the universe. We measured until late January 2016. The analysis of these data is ongoing. In April or May we hope to report more measurement results.

The LIGO researchers were silent for months. Why?

Reitze: To make sure that we did not shout too soon. A few years ago, an American team failed with big bang measurements that finally was seemed to be dust. We wanted to be sure, that is why we have kept it quiet.

From the press conference in Washington on February 11, 2016, there is a global explosion of enthusiasm. It was overwhelming. That’s because it has all the elements of a good human story:

  • the drama of years of searching and finally find what you need
  • heroism
  • hard work which is rewarded

Video – On September 14, 2015, LIGO observed ripples in the fabric of spacetime

David Reitze discovered gravity waves

David Reitze is the Executive Director of the LIGO Laboratory and a Research Professor at Caltech and a Professor of Physics at the University of Florida. He earned his PhD at the University of Texas, Austin in 1990, and held research positions at Bell Communications Research and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory before joining the physics faculty at University of Florida in 1993.

  • He has worked extensively on many areas of gravitational wave detector development and gravitational wave science for the past 20 years, joining Caltech in 2011 to head the LIGO Laboratory.
  • Reitze served as the Spokesperson for the LIGO Scientific Collaboration from 2007 to 2011. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the Optical Society.


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