Scientists since Albert Einstein have believed that when major galactic events like supernova explosions or black hole mergers occur in the universe, they leave a trace. That trace, it is believed, takes the form of gravitational waves, ripples in the curvature of space-time that propagate as a wave, travelling outward from the source.
For over a decade, scientists and engineers have engaged in one of the most ambitious research efforts ever undertaken: to design, build and operate the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) to identify signs of gravitational waves.
From 2002 to 2010, hundreds of scientists worked together to bring the experiment to life. It required two gravitational wave observatories, 1,865 miles apart, working in unison: the LIGO Livingston Observatory in Livingston, Louisiana, and the LIGO Hanford Observatory, located near Richland, Washington. LIGO was developed and is managed by Caltech and MIT, and is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).
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