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Press Statement 17-002

LIGO detects third black hole merger

NSF director reflects on the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory's latest detection and its significance

Dancing duo of black holes.

Dancing duo of black holes.

June 1, 2017

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

Statement from National Science Foundation (NSF) Director France Córdova regarding news that researchers at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detected gravitational waves from a third pair of merging black holes 3 billion light-years away -- the farthest distance yet.

This is exactly what we hoped for from NSF's investment in LIGO: taking us deeper into time and space in ways we couldn't do before the detection of gravitational waves. In this case, we're exploring approximately 3 billion light-years away! LIGO continues to make remarkable discoveries, transitioning from experiment to gravitational wave observatory. More importantly, each detection has offered much more than just a "sighting." Slowly, we are collecting data that unveil the origin and characteristics of these objects, further informing our understanding of the universe.

This is why NSF started providing support for LIGO more than 40 years ago. We know this is just the beginning. This "window on the universe" will continue to expand, and NSF looks forward to being a part of future upgrades that promise to increase the frequency of detections to even a daily basis. We will watch eagerly as hundreds of researchers from around the world enhance this observatory to illuminate the physics of merging black holes, neutron stars and other astronomical phenomena.


Media Contacts
Ivy F. Kupec, NSF, (703) 292-8796, email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2021 budget of $8.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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