NSF director reflects on the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory's latest detection and its significance
June 1, 2017
Statement from National Science Foundation (NSF) Director France Córdova regarding news that researchers at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detected gravitational waves from a third pair of merging black holes 3 billion light-years away -- the farthest distance yet.
This is exactly what we hoped for from NSF's investment in LIGO: taking us deeper into time and space in ways we couldn't do before the detection of gravitational waves. In this case, we're exploring approximately 3 billion light-years away! LIGO continues to make remarkable discoveries, transitioning from experiment to gravitational wave observatory. More importantly, each detection has offered much more than just a "sighting." Slowly, we are collecting data that unveil the origin and characteristics of these objects, further informing our understanding of the universe.
This is why NSF started providing support for LIGO more than 40 years ago. We know this is just the beginning. This "window on the universe" will continue to expand, and NSF looks forward to being a part of future upgrades that promise to increase the frequency of detections to even a daily basis. We will watch eagerly as hundreds of researchers from around the world enhance this observatory to illuminate the physics of merging black holes, neutron stars and other astronomical phenomena.