Prototype beam splitter for the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO)

Image number: E2008.186.1_0004

Prototype beam splitter for the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO)

This is a prototype part for Advanced LIGO, one of the most sensitive experiments ever designed. It will split a laser beam down two paths, several kilometres long. Scientists will look for changes in the path lengths that might be caused by a passing gravitational wave.

Gravitational waves are tiny, fleeting warps in the fabric of space-time, predicted by Einstein’s general theory of relativity. They are caused by moving bodies such as colliding stars.

Image number:
E2008.186.1_0004
Credit:
Science Museum/Science & Society Picture Library
Image rights: