LIGO team members (left-to-right: Fabrice Matichard, Sheila Dwyer, Hugh Radkins) install in-vacuum equipment as part of the squeezed-light upgrade. Credit: Nutsinee Kijbunchoo/ANU
Original Published Date: 
Friday, May 31, 2019

Full article issued by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery (OzGrav). Originally published 2/5/2019.

ARC-supported researchers from OzGrav, as part of an international team of scientists, have detected the signals from what is thought to be the merger of two neutron stars, the incredibly dense remains of a collapsed star. The discovery follows a series of major upgrades to the LIGO detectors. LIGO—which consists of twin detectors located in Washington and Louisiana, USA—is now about 40 per cent more sensitive, which means that it can survey an even larger volume of space for powerful, wave-making events, such as the collisions of black holes. 

An important part of the update to LIGO that made this detection possible was the installation of instruments called 'quantum squeezers'. These squeezers dampen quantum noise, caused by the discrete, quantised, nature of light, by changing the quantum properties of the light used by LIGO to detect ripples in the fabric of spacetime. The squeezers are based on an Australian National University (ANU) design and ANU-based OzGrav scientists were part of the team that installed and commissioned them.

Photo credit: 

Image: LIGO team members (left-to-right: Fabrice Matichard, Sheila Dwyer, Hugh Radkins) install in-vacuum equipment as part of the squeezed-light upgrade. Credit: Nutsinee Kijbunchoo/ANU