Gravitational wave detector with cosmological reach

Sheila Dwyer, Daniel Sigg, Stefan W. Ballmer, Lisa Barsotti, Nergis Mavalvala, Matthew Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

142 Scopus citations


Twenty years ago, construction began on the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO). Advanced LIGO, with a factor of 10 better design sensitivity than Initial LIGO, will begin taking data this year, and should soon make detections a monthly occurrence. While Advanced LIGO promises to make first detections of gravitational waves from the nearby universe, an additional factor of 10 increase in sensitivity would put exciting science targets within reach by providing observations of binary black hole inspirals throughout most of the history of star formation, and high signal to noise observations of nearby events. Design studies for future detectors to date rely on significant technological advances that are futuristic and risky. In this paper we propose a different direction. We resurrect the idea of using longer arm lengths coupled with largely proven technologies. Since the major noise sources that limit gravitational wave detectors do not scale trivially with the length of the detector, we study their impact and find that 40 km arm lengths are nearly optimal, and can incorporate currently available technologies to detect gravitational wave sources at cosmological distances (z ≳ 7).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number082001
JournalPhysical Review D - Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 9 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


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