Two Black Holes Collide - Engineering Alumnus Ogin '04 LIGO Discovery

April 25, 2016 / By: Susan Zarambo /St. Thomas Engineer Magazine 2016
Black Holes Collide 315 wide - Ogin '04 LIGO discovery
Photo courtesy of Caltech/MIT/LIGO Laboratory

A LONG, LONG TIME AGO IN A GALAXY FAR, FAR AWAY

When two black holes collided 1.3 billion years ago, they created ripples in the fabric of spacetime – gravitational waves – confirming a major prediction of Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity. But no one knew that until last September when the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) observed it. LIGO used a sensitive system of mirrors and lasers that picked up the disturbance of two black holes each 30 times the size of the sun, colliding at half the speed of light, a billion light years away.

One of the project’s scientists is Greg Ogin ’04. He is particularly interested in noise sources associated with the thin-film dielectric stack coatings that make up the surfaces of the mirrors used in the project.   

Ogin graduated from the University of St. Thomas with triple majors in physics, electrical engineering and applied mathematics. Before earning his Ph.D. at California Institute of Technology, he worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He now is an assistant professor in physics at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington.

View more photos from the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory at www.ligo.caltech.edu/gallery/