LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, (and also Virgo) is an advanced instrument designed to detect gravitational waves. It consists of two identical detectors, each with two perpendicular arms, 4km in length. A laser beam is split and reflected back and forth between these arms, with mirrors at the end of each arm sending the beams back to a detector. When a gravitational wave traverses space, it compresses and stretches space. This effect is captured by LIGO’s arms, resulting in changes to their length. A change in the distance between the mirrors creates a pattern of light and dark. By measuring these interference patterns, LIGO can detect very small changes in spacetime caused by passing gravitational waves. This allows scientists to obtain information about the origin and nature of the source of the waves, such as merging black holes or neutron stars.
Since it was commissioned in 2015, LIGO has made several historic detections of gravitational waves, opening a new window for scientists to observe the universe. Romero-Rodríguez’s contribution consists of refining measurement instruments and characterizing environmental noise that could be due to seismic motion, scattered light, magnetic couplings, among other things. Currently, she also contributes to the search for a gravitational wave background. "During my PhD, I had the privilege of immersing myself in the fascinating world of Virgo, working with an extraordinary community of researchers who never ceased to inspire me. I consider myself truly fortunate to be continuing this journey at VUB and to be working with remarkable researchers who not only contribute to the advancement of science but also make the daily pursuit of knowledge a joyous experience," she says.
Vrije Universiteit Brussel is an internationally oriented university in Brussels, the heart of Europe. By providing excellent research and education on a human scale, VUB wants to make an active and committed contribution to a better society.
The World Needs YouThe Vrije Universiteit Brussel assumes its scientific and social responsibility with love and decisiveness. That’s why VUB launched the platform De Wereld Heeft Je Nodig - The World Needs You, which brings together ideas, actions and projects based on six Ps. The first P stands for People , because that’s what it’s all about: giving people equal opportunities, prosperity, welfare, respect. Peace is about fighting injustice, big and small, in the world. Prosperity combats poverty and inequality. Planet stands for actions on biodiversity, climate, air quality, animal rights... With Partnership , VUB is looking for joint actions to make the world a better place. The sixth and last P is for Poincaré , the French philosopher Henri Poincaré, from whom VUB derives its motto that thinking should submit to nothing except the facts themselves. VUB is an ’urban engaged university’, strongly anchored in Brussels and Europe and working according to the principles of free research.