Physicists won’t be fooling around on April 1 at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory in Washington state and Louisiana, or at the Virgo gravitational-wave detector in Italy.
Instead, they’ll all be bearing down for the most serious search ever conducted for signs of merging black holes, colliding neutron stars — and perhaps the first detection of a mashup involving both those exotic phenomena.
Both experiments have been upgraded significantly since their last observational runs, resulting in a combined increase of about 40 percent in sensitivity. That means even more cosmic smashups should be detected, at distances farther out. There’s also a better chance of determining precisely where cosmic collisions occur, increasing the chances of following up with other types of observations.