In September 2015, scientists from the California Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology made history. With the help of the LIGO project, they measured gravitational waves for the first time.
Gravitational waves are movements in space-time triggered by an accelerated mass. Albert Einstein predicted their existence in 1916 as part of his theory of relativity. By measuring gravitational waves, researchers can study important events in the history of the universe – from supernova explosions, the collision of black holes and neutron stars to the Big Bang itself.
Work on the gravitational wave detector LIGO began in 1992 – today, more than 900 scientists from over 80 institutions are working on the project. In 2017, LIGO was also awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics. The gravitational wave detector VIRGO is the European counterpart to LIGO – under the leadership of a joint consortium called European Gravitational Observatory (EGO), 20 laboratories in six European countries operate the project..