LIGO - Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory

Program Description: LIGO's mission is to directly observe gravitational waves of cosmic origin. The existence of gravitational waves is one of the most intriguing predictions of the General Theory of Relativity proposed by Albert Einstein in 1915. Gravitational waves are distortions in the spacetime geometry that propagate with the speed of light, analogous to ripples on the surface of a pond. Although indirect evidence for the existence of gravitational waves is obtained from the observation of binary pulsars, a direct detection of gravitational waves is yet to be done. A world-wide network of gravitational-wave detectors has started an exciting search for these ripples in spacetime. LIGO operates two gravitational wave observatories in unison: the LIGO Livingston Observatory in Livingston, Louisiana and the LIGO Hanford Observatory, on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, located near Richland, Washington. In Advanced LIGO, one of the Hanford detectors will be moved to India, as part of LIGO-India (Project IndiGO) . New detectors that are 10 times more sensitive are being installed that will provide a change in the bandwidth of high sensitivity, and the ability to tune the instrument for specific astrophysical sources. In construction, expected to be operational in 2018.

Year Started: 2018.

Organization Description: The international LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC) includes over 800 individuals at roughly 50 institutions, working to analyze the data from LIGO and working toward more sensitive future detectors.

Data Description: The following information was found in the LIGO data plan available at For Advanced LIGO the expected data rates are about 10 megabyte/s per interferometer (IFO) for an aggregate rate of about 1 petabyte/year. The raw LIGO data is combined with auxiliary measurements and models to build a time series representing the gravitational wave strain signal. This is then calibrated, and may also be flagged for quality control veto and/or cleaned. In addition, there are a large number of auxiliary instrumental and environmental monitoring channels that are also ingested. LIGO data is expressed with internationally standard data formats, in place since 1997 as the consequence of a LIGO Virgo agreement. It is the ‘Common Data Frame Format for Interferometric Gravitational Wave Detectors , also called an IGWD Frame file. This expresses multi channel time and frequency series, which can have different sampling rates for different channels. Data may also be disseminated in other formats, as identified through community workshops. Raw data will be produced at the rate of 1 PB/year and replicated in at least 3 locations (Livingston, LA; Hanford LA; and CalTech). The policy of the LIGO Laboratory will be to retain, curate, and manage all recorded LIGO data in perpetuity. LIGO itself is not supplying large scale computing resources for the broader research community. Users may compute on LIGO data using their own facilities, national cyberinfrastructure (XSEDE, etc.), or other providers of wholesale computing (Amazon, Google, etc). Users who want massive processing of LIGO data can obtain computer resources from the provider, and ask LIGO to help deliver the data there. LIGO will support two kinds of data distribution: a bulk protocol based on files (a high performance file transfer protocol, the LIGO Data Replicator(LDR)), and an application-based protocol based on data streams, delivering data channels in near real-time as time or frequency series, with no file storage by the client (Network Data Server (NDS). Common Data Frame Format for Interferometric Gravitational Wave Detectors LIGO-T970130

Project Type: Instrument

Project Domains: Math and Physical Sciences

Budget: 200 Million US

Federal Funding: NSF

Program Data

Location Lat/Lon Coordinates Location Type Data Type Data Generation Single Data Instance Size (TB) Estimated Daily Data Size (GB) Estimated Annual Data Size (PB) Average Sustained Throughput (Gbps) Maximum Sustained Throughput (Gbps) Online Repository Size (PB) Total Repository Size (PB) Delay Tolerance (minutes) Jitter Sensitive? Uses the Cloud?
Livingston, LA, United States 30.5,-90.75 Data Repository and Analysis Data On demand 1.00 - -
CalTech, United States 34.14,-118.13 Data Repository and Analysis Data Scheduled 1.00 - -
Hanford, WA 46.58,-119.39 Data Stream Used for Instrument Control Near Real-Time Data Event triggered 1.00 - -
India, India 20.59,78.96 Instrument Instrument Not Specified - -