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Searching for – and finding!  gravitational waves

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On September 14 2015, the two LIGO gravitational wave detectors in Hanford, Washington and Livingston, Louisiana registered a nearly simultaneous signal with time-frequency properties consistent with gravitational-wave emission by the merger of two massive compact objects. Further analysis of the signals by the LIGO Scientific Collaboration and the Virgo Collaboration revealed that the gravitational waves detected by LIGO came from the merger of a binary black hole system. This observation, followed by another one in December 2015, marked the beginning of gravitational wave astronomy. I will describe some details of the observation, the status of LIGO and Virgo ground-based interferometric detectors, and prospects for future observations. 

This talk is part of the Cavendish Physical Society series.

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