UK Involvement in the Operation of Advanced LIGO

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: School of Physics and Astronomy

Abstract

Through the design and construction project 'Advanced LIGO UK,' the UK has succeeded in making fundamental contributions to the Advanced LIGO (aLIGO) detectors in the US by transfer of technology originally developed for GEO 600. As a direct result, UK groups are in a position to fully exploit the rich science data that will be produced over the coming decade. There is, therefore, a unique opportunity to ensure that UK scientists maintain leadership in gravitational wave science, by providing the support and infrastructure necessary for the UK to maintain full involvement in the operation of the aLIGO detectors and so to remain active partners in the user-community group, the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC), through which data rights are earned and distributed. Of equal importance is the need to ensure that UK delivered equipment and facilities for the aLIGO detectors are fully exploited to maximise the science output. This is true both in terms of their implementation within aLIGO, and later when it is planned that reconfiguration or upgrading of aLIGO will be undertaken. It is envisaged that the UK equipment which has been designed to meet all long-term project goals, will remain in place even following such upgrades, and continued UK technical support will help to ensure that is the case. The UK membership of the LSC is considerable, and we have been able to leverage data access and science return for a relatively small investment in the total hardware investment (at the few percent level). Further we are in a position to maintain involvement at the highest level for very modest additional investment, as set out in detail in this proposal.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description dedicated computer infrastructure for searches of very weak signals - gravitational waves - in noise dominated data streams
This work has led to the direct detection of gravitational waves and the first observation of a binary black hole
Exploitation Route This is part of a many-year long quest for the first detection of gravitational waves. Detection and inference will be based on this work. More generally many techniques that have been developed and used in this study have wider applicability.
These results have transformed astronomy and opened the era of gravitational wave astronomy
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Other

URL https://losc.ligo.org/events
 
Description public engagement, increasing pupils and students interest in STEM subjects
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Other
Impact Types Cultural

 
Description ASPERA
Amount £42,468 (GBP)
Organisation Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2015 
End 03/2016
 
Description Astrophysics at the University of Birmingham
Amount £1,830,268 (GBP)
Funding ID ST/S000305/1 
Organisation Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2019 
End 03/2022
 
Description ERF Fellowship - John Veitch
Amount £500,000 (GBP)
Organisation Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2014 
End 01/2019
 
Description Gravitational Wave Astronomy at the University of Birmingham, STFC Equipment Call 2018
Amount £81,350 (GBP)
Funding ID ST/S002154/1 
Organisation Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2018 
End 06/2019
 
Description Gravitational Wave Excellence Through Alliance Training (GrEAT) Network with China
Amount £6,405 (GBP)
Funding ID n/a 
Organisation Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2018 
End 12/2020
 
Description Newton STFC Capacity Building ith LIGO-India
Amount £7,951 (GBP)
Organisation Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2017 
End 05/2020
 
Description Novel Technologies for Cross-disciplinary Research programme
Amount £2,515,589 (GBP)
Funding ID GG-TOP: Gravity Gradient 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2011 
End 02/2015
 
Title GW sources 
Description data set of the detected gravitational wave sources 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2016 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact it's the first and only catalogue of astronomical objects known in gravitational waves 
URL https://losc.ligo.org/about/
 
Title finesse 
Description Frequency domain INterfErometer Simulation SoftwarE 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2007 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact it has allowed design and debug laser interferometers with a simple but powerful tool. It has allowed to simulate many different user-defined optical setups. It has been used for Advanced LIGO 
URL http://www.gwoptics.org/finesse/
 
Title lalinference 
Description data analysis technique to study the properties of gravitational-wave sources 
Type Of Material Data analysis technique 
Year Produced 2010 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact it has enabled the characterisation of the physical properties of GW sources 
URL https://www.lsc-group.phys.uwm.edu/daswg/projects/lalsuite.html
 
Description GEO Collaboration 
Organisation Max Planck Society
Department Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics
Country Germany 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Data analysis and instrumental development
Collaborator Contribution Data analysis and instrumental development
Impact Many papers, technology developments, and outreach events
 
Description GEO Collaboration 
Organisation University of Glasgow
Department Physics and Astronomy Department
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Data analysis and instrumental development
Collaborator Contribution Data analysis and instrumental development
Impact Many papers, technology developments, and outreach events
 
Title CPNest 
Description A generic nested sampling tool for bayesian model selection and parameter estimation. 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2017 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact Recently released, but intend it to be useful in population modelling and signal extraction, within the gravitational wave and wider community. 
URL https://github.com/johnveitch/cpnest
 
Title lalinference 
Description statistical inference package 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2013 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact this is the standard for inference on gravitational-wave data particularly for coalescing binaries 
URL https://www.lsc-group.phys.uwm.edu/daswg/projects/lal/nightly/docs/html/group__ch__inference.html
 
Company Name Laser Labs Games CIC 
Description Laser Labs is a small scale developer for educational apps. Our aim is to promote science using well designed and fun apps. Our endeavour can be traced back to the Gravitational Wave Group at the University of Birmingham where we developed our first applications, from simple simulations to arcade-style games. These were soon used at science fairs by ourselves and by other scientists around the world. The apps work well for attracting an audience and for providing talking points to introduce specific research topics. Our applications became an important element in a highly ranked impact case study for the REF 2014, a regular process for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. Laser Labs Games CIC, or Laser Labs for short, was founded to provide the legal structure for bringing our applications to the well known app stores. We are now recreating our applications for modern devices and technologies, and continue to work with research groups to discuss new ideas and to develop new apps to help bringing science to the masses. 
Year Established 2016 
Impact We succesfull managed to port two of our apps Pocket Black Hole and Strecth and Squash to mobile apps in time for the announcement of the first graviational wave detection. Many of the groups in the LIGO Scientific Collaboration used these apps during the public engagement activities around the event. We later published a mobile version of Space Time Quest and are now preparing Black Hole Master for mobile.
Website https://www.laserlabs.org/
 
Description BICEP2 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact sparked questions and discussion afterwards

people asked to visit research group and talk to scientists
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Astronomy in the City 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Astronomy in the City is our flagship outreach event. It's hosted about 5 times a year, advertised widely by the university in the city and region. Tickets are free and must be booked. We regularly have >100 attendees per event. Each event inlcudes a number of different activities, inlcuding a visit to the University's observatory, a talk by an expert and often hands-on exhibits. We make sure that the talks are related to our own STFC funded research and over the last 12 month gravitational waves and black holes have been the key feature.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015,2016,2017
URL http://www.sr.bham.ac.uk/observatory/astronomyinthecity.php
 
Description Astrostatistics Talk to Edward VI School for Boys 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact I spoke to the sixth-form students at King Edward VI school for boys about modern astronomy and the importance of statistics.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description BBC Stargazing live 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact many people visited stand

TV and radio coverage
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description BICEP2 Results for Astro in the City 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A talk at our monthly "Astronomy in the City" event describing the (then) recent BICEP2 results for gravitational waves in the early universe.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description BSF 2014 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact press conference and pupil workshop

press coverage in BBC, Irish time
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Big Bang Fair 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Type Of Presentation Workshop Facilitator
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact hundreds of pupils attended

-
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description British Science Festival 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Type Of Presentation Workshop Facilitator
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact people visited exhibition

press conference
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description Cavalcando le onde gravitazionali a caccia di buchi neri e chissa' cos'altro 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Many questions and requests for further discussion and participation to events
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.mantovascienza.it/2017/09/15/cavalcando-le-onde-gravitazionali-a-caccia-di-buchi-neri-e-c...
 
Description Educational computer games 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Development of two completely new computer games (Black Hole Pong) and gravitational wave detection (Space Time Quest). In the first year after its release Space Time Quest achieved 10,000 downloads and Black Hole Pong close to 5000

The games have been used internationally at many science fairs and events and are always a focal point especially for younger children.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010,2011,2012,2013,2014
URL http://www.gwoptics.org/processing/space_time_quest/
 
Description Founder and editor on chief of the LIGO Magazine 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A new magazine was founded in 2012 to cover the activities of the 900 scientists strong LIGO Scientific Collaboration. The magazine's prime audience is the collaboration itself. However, we chose to provide a professionally produced and layouted magazine so that members of the public and policy makes can be targeted as well. So far the magazine has been downloaded more than 10000 times. The magazine was founded by Prof Andreas Freise, who has been editor in chief until 2017, Hannah Middletos is deputy editor in chief. Several individual contributions from the Birmingham group have been published in the magazine over the years.

We received several commendation from policy makes and external scientists alike on the professional image that the magazine conveys about our collaboration. However, a detailed impact analysis has not been done.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012,2013,2014,2015,2016
URL http://www.ligo.org/magazine/
 
Description Institute of Physics public lecture 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact sparked questions and discussion and increased interest in related subject areas
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Interview by Guardian 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Interviewed by The Guardian newspaper.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/jun/15/gravitational-waves-detected-from-collision-of-secon...
 
Description Interview by Science Studio 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Interviewed for Science Studio programme on KTEP radio station, Texas plus their podcast.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://ktep.org/post/science-studio-ligo
 
Description King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Boys 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact spark questions and discussion afterwards

received requests for more sessions like this and to visit research group
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Maths Public Lecture on Astrostatistics in Modern Astronomy 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I spoke about the importance of astrostatistics in modern astronomy for a Maths Department public lecture.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Pint of Science 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Public talk "Einstein's Last Quest" on gravitational waves as part of the Pint of Science nation-wide event.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://pintofscience.co.uk/
 
Description Public lecture (National Astronomy Meeting Schools Day) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Was invited to give a talk at the National Astronomy Meeting Schools Day 2016 to around 300 school-children (ages 16+).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.nam2016.org/public-and-schools-events/schools-and-teachers
 
Description Public talk for Walsall Astronomical Society 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact about 50 people attended the talk which sparked discussion and other talks were requested
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Public talk for the Association for Science Education annual conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact lively discussion
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Redditch Astro Society GW Talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A talk at the Redditch astronomy society about the black holes discovered by Advanced LIGO in its first observing run and the dawn of gravitational wave astronomy.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description School Visit, King Edward VI 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact School talk
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description School visit (Queensbridge) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact I was invited to talk to around 50 secondary students (ages 14-16) about my research, the discovery of gravitational waves, choosing a career in science and studying at university. Feedback from teachers suggests it was very well received by students.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Talk for school children at university residential summer school 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Talk for school children on GW astronomy
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description The birth of gravitational wave astronomy 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact about 100 people attended the talk that was followed by many questions and conversations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.atomfestival.org.uk/our-team/atom-2017/
 
Description astronomy in the city 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The intended outcomes are to enthuse young people about astronomy and STEM subjects in general and to show that astronomers and physical scientists in general are real people with whom it is possible to have fun and stimulating discussions. These evenings are full of discussion and lively interaction between our staff, postdocs, students, and the general public.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012,2014,2016
URL http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/astro-in-the-city
 
Description astrostatistics 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact sparked questions and discussion afterwards

received requests for more discussions in this area
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description public talks 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact between 10 and 100 people attended events

received requests from other organisations to give talks
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2007,2008,2009,2010,2011
 
Description visit of Andrew Cohen, head of BBC science 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact discussed research with Andrew Cohen, head of BBC science

-
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description visit of David Willets 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact showed lab and activities

-
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012