Journalists are invited to join the National Science Foundation (NSF) as it brings together scientists from the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) and Virgo collaborations, as well as representatives for some 70 observatories, Monday, Oct. 16, at 10 a.m. EDT at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

The gathering will begin with an overview of new findings from LIGO, Virgo and partners that span the globe, followed by details from telescopes that work with the LIGO and Virgo collaborations to study extreme events in the cosmos.

The first detection of gravitational waves, made Sept. 14, 2015 and announced Feb. 11, 2016, was a milestone in physics and astronomy; it confirmed a major prediction of Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity, and marked the beginning of the new field of gravitational-wave astronomy. Since then, there have been three more confirmed detections, one of which (the most recently announced) was the first confirmed detection seen jointly by both the LIGO and Virgo detectors.

The published articles announcing LIGO’s first, second, and third confirmed detections have been cited more than 1,700 times total, according to Web of Science citation counts. A fourth paper on the three-detector observation was published Oct 6; a manuscript was made publicly available Sept. 27.

Journalists interested in attending should RSVP to 1016rsvp@mit.edu as soon as possible, and by 12 p.m. EDT Friday, Oct. 13 at the latest, to guarantee a response. 

Monday, Oct. 16, 2017
10 a.m. U.S. EDT
** Panels will begin at 10 a.m. and 11:15 a.m., with a 15-minute break in between. The event is expected to conclude by 12:30 p.m. Light refreshments will be provided.

The National Press Club
Holeman Lounge
529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor
Washington, DC 20045

The following researchers will offer brief opening remarks over the course of two panels, with time for questions at the end of each panel:

10:00 a.m.

Moderator: France Córdova, director of the National Science Foundation

David Reitze, executive director, LIGO Laboratory/Caltech
David Shoemaker, spokesperson, LIGO Scientific Collaboration/MIT
Jo van den Brand, spokesperson, Virgo Collaboration/Nikhef, VU University Amsterdam
Julie McEnery, Fermi Project scientist, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
Marica Branchesi, Virgo Collaboration/Gran Sasso Science Institute, Italy
Vicky Kalogera, astrophysicist, LIGO Scientific Collaboration/Northwestern University
11:15 a.m.

Moderator: Jim Ulvestad, NSF acting assistant director for Mathematical and Physical Sciences

Laura Cadonati, deputy spokesperson, LIGO Scientific Collaboration/Georgia Tech
Andy Howell, staff scientist at Las Cumbres Observatory/UC-Santa Barbara
Ryan Foley, assistant professor of astronomy and astrophysics, University of California-Santa Cruz
Marcelle Soares-Santos, assistant professor, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory/Brandeis University
David Sand, assistant professor in astronomy, University of Arizona
Nial Tanvir, professor of astrophysics, University of Leicester, UK
Edo Berger, professor of astronomy, Harvard University
Eleonora Troja, research scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/University of Maryland
Alessandra Corsi, assistant professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Texas Tech University

Due to seating constraints and security at the venue, journalists interested in attending should RSVP to 1016rsvp@mit.edu as soon as possible, and by 12 p.m. EDT Friday, Oct. 13, at the latest, to guarantee a response. We will try to accept RSVPs after that point, but cannot guarantee access. A mult box will be available for broadcast media, and the Press Club is equipped with wireless access.

Reporters interested in receiving embargoed information related to the research being presented can contact the media representative listed below or email 1016rsvp@mit.edu; in doing so, please confirm that you and your outlet’s editors honor embargoes. We will then share embargoed material with you Friday, Oct. 13.

To RSVP or request embargoed material, please email 1016rsvp@mit.edu. Please refer other questions to the public information officers listed in the “Media Contacts” section below.


For press not based in the Washington, D.C., area, this event will be simulcast live online, and we will try to answer some questions submitted remotely. For details about how to participate remotely, please contact Aya Collins at NSF.


LIGO is funded by NSF, and operated by Caltech and MIT, which conceived of LIGO and led the Initial and Advanced LIGO projects. Financial support for the Advanced LIGO project was led by NSF with Germany (Max Planck Society), the U.K. (Science and Technology Facilities Council) and Australia (Australian Research Council) making significant commitments and contributions to the project. More than 1,200 scientists from around the world participate in the effort through the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, which includes the GEO Collaboration. Additional partners are listed at http://ligo.org/partners.php.

The Virgo collaboration consists of more than 280 physicists and engineers belonging to 20 different European research groups: six from Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in France; eight from the Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN) in Italy; two in the Netherlands with Nikhef; the MTA Wigner RCP in Hungary; the POLGRAW group in Poland; Spain with the University of Valencia; and the European Gravitational Observatory, EGO, the laboratory hosting the Virgo detector near Pisa in Italy, funded by CNRS, INFN, and Nikhef.


Media Contacts
Aya Collins, NSF, (703) 292-7737, email: acollins@nsf.gov
Kimberly Allen, LIGO-LSC-MIT, (617) 253-2702, email: allenkc@mit.edu
Emily Velasco, LIGO-Caltech, (626) 395-6487, email: evelasco@caltech.edu
Jason Maderer, LSC-Georgia Tech, (404) 385-2966, email: maderer@gatech.edu