The Laser Interferometry and Gravitational Wave Astronomy Division

After decades of research, gravitational-wave science has reached its first goal: today's gravitational-wave observatories operate at a level of sensitivity that en- ables the direct detection of gravitational wave, as the discovery from September 2015 impressively shows. The AEI scientists of the “Laser Interferometry and Gravitational Wave Astronomy” division play a world-wide leading role in this venture. Together with UK colleagues they operate the gravitational-wave detector GEO600 and develop cutting-edge technologies for this experiment: powerful and extremely stable lasers, so-called squeezed laser light with tailored quantum properties, clever suspension techniques, and innovative detector layouts. Many of these methods were initially developed at the AEI. They are now being used worldwide in all of the large gravitational-wave observatories of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration and have significantly increased their sensitivity. 

The most spectacular gravitational-wave detection project is called LISA, or “Laser Interferometer Space Antenna”, which is a planned gravitational-wave observatory in space. The AEI is the worldwide leading research institution in the development of LISA. The observatory will consist of three satellites spanning million-kilometers long laser arms, enabling LISA to hear gravitational-wave signals from the entire Universe, probably even from the Big Bang. 

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