EU-funded research to contribute to the first detection of gravitational waves produced by colliding neutron stars

Artistic impression of the BNS coalescence

Ⓒ NSF/LIGO/Sonoma State University/Aurore Simonnet

11 MSCA fellows from the EU funded project GraWIToN are participating to the breakthrough of the first cosmic event observed in both gravitational waves and light.

Moreover, the European Southern Observatory (ESO) is contributing to this unprecedented discovery.

For the first time, scientists have directly detected gravitational waves — ripples in space and time — in addition to light from the spectacular collision of two neutron stars. This marks the first time that a cosmic event has been viewed in both gravitational waves and light.

Now scientists were able to "see" and "hear" the cosmic events in order to better understand them. This gives them the opportunity to further deepen and transform our understanding of the workings of the universe

The discovery was made using the U.S.-based Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO); the Europe-based Virgo detector; and some 70 ground- and space-based observatories.

The European Southern Observatory (ESO) has received around 14 MEuro from the European Union.

EU-funded research to contribute to the first detection of gravitational waves produced by colliding neutron stars

Map of the GW detectors and of the telescopes participating to the detection

Ⓒ LIGO/Virgo


11 researchers from the Initial Training Network GraWIToN project, funded under the FP7 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, directly contributed to this scientific achievement announced earlier that demonstrates the possibility to study rare cosmic events using both traditional as well as gravitational-wave observatories.

The EU-funded GraWIToN (received 3.67 MEuro EU-funding) recruited young researchers in institutions in France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom. These researchers were involved in experimental analysis, data analysis and simulations both in Virgo and LIGO detectors.


The MSCA fellows are the following:

Matthieu Gosselin (Experimental)

Zeno Tornasi (Experimental)

Daniel Töyrä (Simulation-Experimental)

Jose M. González Castro (Simulation-Experimental)

Imran Khan (Experimental)

Omar De Varona (Experimental)

Marina Trad Nery (Experimental)

Shubhanshu Tiwari (Data Analysis) 

Gang Wang (Data Analysis)

Serena Vinciguerra (Data Analysis)

Akshat Singhal (Data Analysis)


LIGO is funded by the 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 the 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 and some 100 institutions from around the world participate in the effort through the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, which includes the GEO Collaboration and the Australian collaboration OzGrav. Additional partners are listed at    

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.

4th Gravitational Wave detected - The EU funded project GraWIToN contributes to the new era for gravitational wave science

Following the previous observations of gravitational waves, on 28th September 2017 it was announced that a fourth gravitational-wave signal located about 1.8 billion light-years away was detected on the 14th of August 2017, at 10:30:43 UTC.

The merger of two black holes with masses about 31 and 35 solar masses forming a black hole of 53 solar masses emitted the gravitational wave (ripples in space and time) called GW170814.

The significance of the observation of GW170814 is that it is the first event that was observed by the global 3-detector network, the two twin Advanced LIGO (located in the USA) detectors and the Advanced Virgo (located in Italy), supported by the European Gravitational Observatory (EGO).

Due to 3-detector network, it was possible to better localise the source in the sky and to test of Einstein's theory of general relativity. This observation shows both the potential of multimessenger astronomy and the global collaborations which are now necessary to make possible great discoveries.

The discovery, accepted for publication in the journal Physical Review Letters (the journal article draft is available for download at these links: and was made by the LIGO-Virgo Collaboration.


"The EU funded project GraWIToN contributes to the new era for gravitational wave science"

GW170814 Press Kit

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