Advanced LIGO, GW150914, and beyond
This event is part of the Physics Department Colloquia Series.
The LIGO collaboration completed the two Advanced LIGO detectors in early 2015, with an official dedication taking place at Hanford, WA, in May 2015, transitioning the facilities from a construction project to observatories. By August 2015, the two detectors were working well, only a bit short of their designed sensitivity (as is normal at the early stage of such a complex project). The laboratories were scheduled to begin an observing run in late September 2015 and to continue this run into January 2016. In the early morning of 14 September 2015, while conducting engineering studies of the detectors, a strong transient signal was observed. Online analysis flagged this event 3 minutes after it was received. In February 2016, the collaboration announced the observation by LIGO of gravitational waves from a binary black hole merger. The University of Florida built the input optics for both initial and Advanced LIGO and has been carrying out online and off-line data analysis for generic gravitational wave transients in the LIGO data stream. This, the detection, other results from this early observing run, the current status of LIGO, and the prospects for the future will be discussed.