Our goal is not only to make the first direct detection of gravitational waves (the last prediction of general relativity that hasn't been experimentally verified!), but to continue using gravitational wave astronomy to understand astrophysical phenomena using this new kind of radiation. These sources include binary black holes or neutron stars, collisions/mergersof such binaries, supernovae, starquakes, asymmetric pulsars. and others. To get the detector running, we work on different subsystems including data acquisition and computing systems, interferometer control, laser systems, seismic isolation, suspensions, and input optics, core optics, and auxiliary optics systems.
All of us answering your questions today have a different role in LIGO, and we're hoping we can give you a glimpse from multiple aspects of our collaboration of ~900 people! If you have questions for specific people, feel free to say so! We will be signing posts with our initials. Here's a little bit about ourselves:
- Gabriela Gonzalez, professor, LIGO data quality, Spokesperson of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (GG)
- Warren Anderson, professor (WA)
- Martin Hendry, professor, data analysis and astrophysics, education and public outreach (MH)
- Joey Key, research faculty, data analysis (JK)
- Nutsinee Kijbunchoo, operations specialist at LIGO Hanford (NK)
- Greg Ogin, professor, mirror coating thermal noise (GO)
- David Shoemaker, research scientist, project leader for aLIGO (DS)
- Betsy Weaver, detector engineer at LIGO Hanford (BW)
- Hunter Gabbard, undergraduate student, detector characterization for aLIGO (HG)
- Calvin Leung, undergraduate student, transient data analysis (CL)
- Samantha Usman, undergraduate student, data quality for binary merger searches (SU)
- Nancy Aggarwal, graduate student, radiation pressure noise and optomechanical squeezing in miniature LIGO-like systems (NA)
- Sarah Gossan, graduate student, parameter estimation for core-collapse supernovae (SG)
- Zach Korth, graduate student (ZK)
- Brynley Pearlstone, graduate student, data analysis (BP)
- Maggie Tse, graduate student, quantum enhancement for aLIGO (MT)
- Andrew Williamson, graduate student, data analysis of compact binary mergers, detector characterisation, gamma-ray bursts (AW)
- Shivaraj Kandhasamy, post-doc, detector characterization, stochastic GWs (SK)
- Grant Meadors, post-doc, data analysis for continuous waves from neutron stars (GM)
We will all be answering questions as individuals, and our answers will not necessarily reflect the views of collaboration as a whole.
More about LIGO:
Social: Facebook, Twitter
Videos: LIGO Generations, LIGO: A Passion for Understanding
EDIT Hi Reddit, we're having a great time answering your (awesome) questions, so we will stick around for another hour past 3pm, keep the questions coming!
EDIT: 4pm Many thanks to everyone who asked questions, and for r/science for hosting us! We had a blast today, and we hope you enjoyed this as much as we did! We're officially signing off now, but a few of us want to stick around, so expect some more answers to trickle in. If you have more questions or would like to contact us, find us on Facebook or Twitter!