Laser Interferometer Gravity-wave Observatory (LIGO)
The Laser Interferometer Gravity-wave Observatory (LIGO) operates sites in two U.S. locations. STAR's partner site is in Southeast Washington. It is located about 12 miles from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) near the city of Richland. LIGO is one of several projects around the globe seeking to open a new field of astronomy through the direct detection of gravitational waves from space. You can take a quick tour of "extreme spacetime" surrounding black holes, neutron stars, and other phenomena expected to produce detectable gravitational waves. LIGO researchers are passionate about their exploration of the theoretical and practical experimental limits of these elusive measurements (hear it from them).
What type of work is done at LIGO?
Research at LIGO centers on instrumentation, calibration, and data analysis projects related to constantly monitoring and improving observatory hardware and software. In 2014 LIGO completed the installation of its next-generation advanced detectors as reported in this BBC article and in 2015 reported the world's first confirmed detections of gravity waves! Listen to STAR friend Riccardo Bassiri share more about their work on YouTube.
Research Opportunities for STAR Fellows
LIGO will be will be offerring one or two STAR Fellowships. Projects can range from material science, data analysis, environmental monitoring, and applied mathematics. LIGO's STAR Fellows can expect to interact closely with the larger number of Fellows placed at nearby PNNL and take advantage of opportunities at both faclities. Attention to detail and data analysis skills are essential at LIGO. STAR Fellows at LIGO are able to take advantage of nearby accommodation organized by PNNL, but LIGO is most appropriate for individuals with access to their own reliable transportation.
2017 Projects Include
LIGO Line Tracking Tools And Detector Characterization - Dr. Greg Mendell's team will help further develop code that monitors LIGO data for narrow spectral lines. These lines can be either calibration lines, in which case measurements of their amplitude and phase is important to calibrating the instrument, or unwanted spectral disturbances that interfere with searches for gravitational waves. Interested STAR Fellow(s) will learn about signal processing and data analysis, help improve the code and its web interface, and study lines in the data to help better characterize the detector. Various parts of the code are written in C/C++, Matlab, and Python. Familiarity with at least one of these languages is required.
Past LIGO projects include
WHERE is LIGO?