LIGO Hanford Observatory discovers new population of black holes - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

LIGO Hanford Observatory discovers new population of black holes

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KENNEWICK, WA - We always hear about bad news at the Hanford site, but today there was a major breakthrough at an observatory on the site.

Scientists at the LIGO Hanford Observatory announced a major discovery this morning. LIGO discovered a new population of black holes in outer space after three confirmed detections at the observatory on the Hanford site.

Reporter Rex Carlin Skyped with the lead scientist at LIGO, Michael Landry, who's in France for a conference...and he says that what they have discovered is larger and more extensive than anything they've ever seen.

The LIGO Hanford lab confirmed three detections of black holes larger than any detected before, in a subset of the lab's work called Gravitational Wave Astronomy. Landry says these findings can trickle down to our everyday lives.

"That may lead to spinoffs that do impact everyday life," Landry said. "For instance, Einstein's theory of relativity is needed for your cell phone to locate you with GPS. If you had only Newton's theory of gravity and you didn't have Einstein, you'd be off by seven miles per day on your GPS cell phone locator."

And Landry says this worldwide endeavor actually revolves around the observatory right here in Richland, on the outer edge of the Hanford site.

"The whole group that works on it is a thousand people worldwide, the LIGO Scientific Collaboration. By the laboratories where the actual detectors reside are in Richland and in Louisiana," said Landry.

Scientists right here in the Tri-Cities are making discoveries far, far from home.