Current gravitational-wave astronomy
Up-to-date information on gravitational-wave astronomy and expertise at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Hannover and Potsdam.
Observing run O4
LIGO, Virgo, and KAGRA began their 4th joint observing run on 24 May 2023. It will last 20 months, including up to two months of commissioning breaks. It will be the most sensitive search yet for gravitational waves. LIGO has resumeed operations May 24th, while Virgo will join later in the year. KAGRA will join for one month, beginning May 24th, rejoining later in the run after some upgrades.
With the detectors’ increased sensitivity O4 will observe a larger fraction of the Universe than previous observing runs. The LIGO detectors will begin O4 approximately 30% more sensitive than before. This increased sensitivity will result in a higher rate of observed gravitational-wave signals, resulting in a detection of a merger every 2 or 3 days. Additionally, the increased sensitivity will increase the ability to extract more physical information (including unique astrophysical and cosmological information) from the data.
News from the fourth observing run (O4)
Current detector status
Public alerts for signal candidates
During O4 possible transient gravitational-wave signals (candidates for binary merger signals) identified by the LIGO-Virgo-KAGRA Collaboration researchers will be made public in near real time. Data about the candidate, such as the signal type, sky position and estimated distance are published as part of these “alerts”. Professional and amateur astronomers can schedule follow-up observations of gravitational-wave events based on this information.
For O4, a similar process is planned. With the apps Astro-COLIBRI and Gravitational Wave Events, public alerts can be received on Android and iOS.
Last observing run: O3 (April 2019 - March 2020)
On 1 April 2019, the twin LIGO instruments, the Virgo detector, and the GEO600 instrument began their third observing run “O3”. KAGRA joined at the end of the run. The detectors’ sensitivities had been further increased in the months before and in previous engineering runs.
In October 2019 after the first half of O3 (called O3a), data taking was interrupted for a full month for maintenance and upgrades at the detectors. The second half of O3 (called O3b) was planned to conclude on 30 April 2020, but was finished already on 27 March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Highlights from O3
LIGO Scientific Collaboration departments, research groups, and experts at AEI
LIGO Scientific Collaboration researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Potsdam and Hannover and at the Leibniz Universität Hannover are leading partners in the international gravitational-wave community.
Astrophysical and Cosmological Relativity department
Laser Interferometry and Gravitational Wave Astronomy department
Independent research group Binary Merger Observations and Numerical Relativity