News FocusAstrophysics

Gravitational Wave Hunters Take Aim at the Sky

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Science  16 Aug 2002:
Vol. 297, Issue 5584, pp. 1113-1115
DOI: 10.1126/science.297.5584.1113

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European and American scientists are eager to build the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA), a 5-million-kilometer triangle of spacecraft tuned to murmurs from the biggest black hole encounters of all. Whereas the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) and its brethren try to detect high-frequency bursts from sudden events, such as off-center supernova blasts or the collisions of two neutron stars or black holes with starlike masses, LISA will tune into deep gravitational murmurs that rumble for months or years. If LIGO listens for the squeaks of cosmic mice, LISA will record intricate whale songs.