The Optical Society congratulates the LIGO and Virgo scientific collaboration for fourth gravitation


Credit: LIGO/Virgo

WASHINGTON — Albert Einstein's 1916 general theory of relativity was validated for a fourth time according a joint announcement between the international LIGO and Virgo Scientific Collaborations. Only some of the most massive astrophysical events, such as mergers of black holes and neutron stars, can produce gravitational waves strong enough to be detected on earth. On August 14, the Virgo Collaboration, along with the U.S. LIGO observatories, detected its first gravitational wave signal from a pair of black holes violently merging over a billion light-years away. LIGO's previous detections have stemmed from merging black holes but this is the first time a merger has been witnessed by three observatories at one time.

LIGO's first detection in September 2015 discovered a black hole with a solar mass of 62. A second detection came in December 2015 with a solar mass of 21. The third detection in June 2016 discovered a black hole with a solar mass of 49 times the sun. On August 14, the Advanced LIGO and Virgo facilities detected the merger of two black holes with masses of about 31 and 25 times the mass of the Sun and located about 1.8 billion light-years away.

"With this first joint detection by the Advanced LIGO and Virgo detectors, we have taken one step further into the gravitational-wave cosmos," said David H. Reitze, LIGO Executive Director and Fellow of The Optical Society. "Virgo brings a powerful new capability to detect and better locate gravitational-wave sources, one that will undoubtedly lead to exciting and unanticipated results in the future. I continue to be proud of the international collaboration between the LIGO and Virgo teams."

Robert L. Byer, 1994 President of The Optical Society and the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Applied Physics, Stanford University, California, USA, added "The LIGO Scientific Collaboration continues to further define what we know about our universe and, with the right investment in scientific research, LIGO will continue on with many more insightful detections of our universe. Advanced LIGO and Virgo require advanced optical interferometers enabled by cutting-edge, solid-state lasers. My plenary presentation at the OSA Laser Congress will detail the history of gravitational wave science and provide insights into what lies ahead."


Gravitational waves, ripples in space and time, are now closer to our view through optics. Hear more from Robert L. Byer on Monday, October 2, 2017, Nagoya, Japan.

MEDIA REGISTRATION: Media/analyst registration for OSA Laser Congress 2017 is available by emailing [email protected] Please visit the event website at OSA Laser Congress for additional information, including travel arrangement details.

About OSA Laser Congress

The OSA Laser Congress will be held 1-5 October at the Convention Center Nagoya, Nagoya, Aichi, Japan. The Congress features the latest advances in solid state laser development and related technologies for free-space laser communication and numerous industrial applications. It provides attendees with a comprehensive overview of the latest technological advancements as well as applications of laser technologies for industrial products and markets. In 2017, the Congress offers two collocated meetings: Advanced Solid State Lasers Conference (ASSL) and Laser Applications Conference (LAC).

About The Optical Society

Founded in 1916, The Optical Society (OSA) is the leading professional organization for scientists, engineers, students and business leaders who fuel discoveries, shape real-life applications and accelerate achievements in the science of light. Through world-renowned publications, meetings and membership initiatives, OSA provides quality research, inspired interactions and dedicated resources for its extensive global network of optics and photonics experts. For more information, visit

Media Contacts:

Rebecca B. Andersen
The Optical Society
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+1 202.416.1443

Joshua Miller
The Optical Society
[email protected]
+1 202.416.1435

Media Contact

Joshua Miller
[email protected]

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