Gravitational waves are tiny distortions of space-time caused by some of the most violent cosmic events such as colliding black holes. The observation of these ‘ripples of space-time’ requires exquisitely sophisticated new technology.

Birmingham physicists have designed and built components for the most sensitive instruments in the world called Advanced LIGO, and developed the techniques essential to tease out the signatures of gravitational waves from the data. The 4-kilometre LIGO detectors have just started observing, and the hunt for gravitational waves in on.