Advanced LIGO Project Funded by National Science Foundation

Upgrade will enable the new field of gravitational wave astronomy.

The Advanced LIGO Project, an upgrade in sensitivity for LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatories), was approved by the National Science Board in its meeting on March 27. The National Science Foundation will fund the $205.12 million, seven-year project, starting with $32.75 million in 2008. This major upgrade will increase the sensitivity of the LIGO instruments by a factor of 10, giving a one thousand-fold increase in the number of astrophysical candidates for gravitational wave signals.

"We anticipate that this new instrument will see gravitational wave sources possibly on a daily basis, with excellent signal strengths, allowing details of the waveforms to be observed and compared with theories of neutron stars, black holes, and other astrophysical objects moving near the speed of light," says Jay Marx of the California Institute of Technology, executive director of the LIGO Laboratory.

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