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EU funding supports Nobel Prize-winning discovery

Brussels, 4 October 2017

Nine PhD students funded by the European Commission were involved in the discovery behind the Nobel Prize in Physics 2017.

Jose M. González, Matthieu Gosselin, Imran Khan, Justus Schmidt, Akshat Singhal, Shubhanshu Tiwari, Daniel Töyrä, Serena Vinciguerra and Gang Wang of the EU-funded GraWIToN ITN project (EU contribution EUR 3 670 303,56) were among the 1,000 scientists from 20 countries to sign the open access scientific paper Observation of Gravitational Waves from a Binary Black Hole Merger, following the first observation of gravitational waves in 2015. The gravitational wave detection came from a collision between two black holes, which took 1.3 billion years to arrive at the LIGO waves' detector in the USA.

Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Science, Research and Innovation, said: "I am proud to say that nine promising EU-funded scientists were involved in this Nobel Prize winning discovery, predicted by Albert Einstein one hundred years ago. Their work in the project was enabled by EU funding which supports ground breaking research extends the frontiers of human knowledge, innovative ideas that crate growth and jobs, and also researcher mobility at all stages of their careers."

Rainer Weiss and Kip S. Thorne, together with Barry C. Barish, were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics 2017 for bringing over fifty years of research together in a scientific publication on the observation of the universe’s gravitational waves for the very first time. The prize was awarded to the laureates "for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves".

Background

The analysis of the data was done by researchers who belong to the LIGO and Virgo International collaborations working on gravitational wave research in gravitational observatories in the U.S. and Italy. Since the first discovery in 2015, more gravitational wave observations from merging black hole were made binaries by the collaborations.