Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Is it coincidence?

For those interested in gravitational wave detection you may be excited to note that as of this morning at 00:28 UTC the three LIGO detectors have taken one years worth of triple coincidence data. What this means is that there is now one years worth of overlapping data from all three detectors. Overlapping data is essential when hunting for unmodelled short duration bursts of gravitational waves (e.g. from a supernova or GRB), as seeing an event in multiple detectors gives you confidence that the event is real (one detector would never be enough for you to rule out that an event wasn't just some random instrumental glitch, or environmental contamination) and allows you to get some positional information about the event. The current LIGO science run (S5 - meaning the fifth run of data taking) had this one year target as its main goal, also the detectors have generally been at their design sensitivities, meaning there's lots of nice high quality data for us to search through.