Gravitational Wave Open Science Center

About the Instruments and Collaborations

The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) the Virgo detector are large-scale physics experiments designed to directly detect gravitational waves. The LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC) and the Virgo Collaboration pursue gravitational wave science with these detectors, along with partner collaborations around the world.

Gravitational-wave Science Overviews

Publications and Documents


The LIGO Observatory

The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) consists of two widely separated installations within the United States — one in Hanford, Washington and the other in Livingston, Louisiana — operated in unison as a single observatory. LIGO is operated by the LIGO Laboratory, a consortium of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Funded by the National Science Foundation, LIGO is an international resource for both physics and astrophysics.


The Virgo detector is a 3-km arm interferometer located in Cascina near Pisa in Italy. The detector has been designed and built by the Virgo collaboration that includes researchers and engineers from the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS, France), the Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN, Italy), Nikhef (Netherlands), research institutes in Poland, Hungary and Spain and from the European Gravitational Observatory (EGO), that hosts the Virgo detector. EGO is a consortium created by CNRS and INFN, that has responsibility to manage the Virgo detector and coordinate future upgrades.

The GEO600 Detector

The GEO600 project aims at the direct detection of gravitational waves by means of a laser interferometer of 600 m armlength located near Hannover, Germany. Besides collecting data for gravitational wave searches, the GEO600 detector has been used to develop and test advanced instrumentation for gravitational wave detection.

The LIGO Scientific Collaboration

The LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC) is a group of scientists focused on the direct detection of gravitational waves, using them to explore the fundamental physics of gravity, and developing the emerging field of gravitational-wave science as a tool of astronomical discovery. The LSC works toward this goal through research on, and development of techniques for, gravitational wave detection; and the development, commissioning and exploitation of gravitational wave detectors. The LSC carries out the science of the LIGO and GEO600 Observatories. Participation in the LSC is open to all interested scientists and engineers from educational and research institutions.

The LIGO observatories are built and operated by the LIGO Laboratory (California Institute of Technology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology) with participation by the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, and are supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation. The Virgo detector is designed, built and operated by a collaboration that includes the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (France), the Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (Italy) and Nikhef (Netherlands), with Polish, Hungarian and Spanish institutes and the European Gravitational Observatory (EGO) consortium.
For general information, visit and
The LIGO Laboratory's Data Management Plan describes the scope and timing of LIGO data releases.