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CITA Faculty and Fellow Part of LVK’s Newest Observation Run

Today the LIGO-Virgo-KAGRA (LVK) Collaboration begins a new observing run with upgraded instruments, new and even more accurate signal models, and more advanced data analysis methods.

This observing run, known as O4, promises to take gravitational-wave astronomy to the next level. O4 will begin on May 24th and last 20 months, including up to two months of commissioning breaks. It will be the most sensitive search yet for gravitational waves. LIGO will resume operations on 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.

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.

For more details see the LIGO news site.

CITA faculty Maya Fishbach and Reed Essick and CITA Fellow Phil Landry have a longstanding involvement with the LVK. Landry, who chairs the “Extreme Matter R&D Working Group,” has been eagerly awaiting the start of this observing campaign. He is proud of the contributions of the LIGO group at CITA, sharing that the group “has contributed a lot of important work to prepare for this observing run, and we can’t wait to get our hands dirty analyzing the new black hole and neutron star merger signals that we detect.”

Fishbach, who co-chairs the “Rates & Populations Working Group,” is looking forward to having new gravitational-wave observations to answer questions that theoretical astrophysicists at CITA have been thinking up since the last run, nearly three years ago.

“Since the last observing run…theoretical astrophysicists at CITA have been thinking up new questions that we want to study with gravitational waves from neutron stars and black holes. I am thrilled that we will finally have the new gravitational-wave observations to answer these questions. There is hard work ahead of us as we try to make sense of the loud and dynamic gravitational-wave Universe, but the discovery potential has never been higher.”

– Prof. Maya Fishback

O4 presents opportunities for theorists at CITA outside of the LIGO group as well. Essick shared that “Gravitational wave observations are a key part of multi-messenger astronomy, but they are only one part.” He is “excited to see what the entire community discovers during O4, from radio to gamma-ray observers as well as neutrino and astroparticle experiments, and how CITA’s broad astrophysical expertise can help work out the origin of these astrophysical systems. We only find what we look for, and it’s very exciting to be able to start looking at all these channels with new data.”

For more details see the LIGO news site.

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