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Scientists have for the first time detected gravitational waves, ripples in the fabric of space-time hypothesized by Albert Einstein a century ago, in a landmark discovery announced on Feb. 11 that touts a new era in astrophysics.

On September 14, 2015, scientists detected gravitational waves by both of the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded-twin Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors. LIGO is among the most precise measuring devices ever built — it's actually two observatories about 1,900 miles apart in Louisiana and Washington.

For the resources and staff expertise, LIGO relied upon XSEDE (Extreme Science Engineering and Discovery Environment) and OSG (Open Science Grid).

Stampede, one of the Top 10 supercomputers in the world, was chosen because it resembled a parallel high-throughput cluster more than any other XSEDE resource at the time. Also, the staff at TACC were instrumental in helping LIGO guide where they looked for code optimization. "We wouldn't have been as successful without them [TACC]."

LIGO researchers believe that XSEDE is at the forefront of defining what large-scale computing and these national facilities will look like in the future. Going forward, LIGO is moving into an era of regular detections; they will be pushing the limits of physics, astrophysics, and engineering.


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