The LIGO observatory's place in scientific history has been recognized by the American Physical Society.
The organization of physicists named the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-observatory as its Historic Site for 2018.
Twin LIGOs at Hanford near Richland and in Louisiana detected gravitational waves from outer space passing through the Earth for the first time on Sept. 14, 2015. It was nearly 100 years after Albert Einstein predicted their existence.
"The precision required to detect these tiny disturbances in space-time, caused by merging black holes, was made possible by the coordinated labor of over 1,000 scientific and technical workers," says a plaque that will be placed at LIGO Hanford later this month.
Since the 2015 detection, LIGO Hanford has detected additional gravitational waves — ripples through space and time — from the collision of massive black holes more than 1 billion light years from the Earth.
Last August, it also detected gravitational waves from the collision of two neutron stars that occurred at the end of the Jurassic period on Earth.
Because the cosmic event could be viewed in both gravitational waves and light — unlike the merger of black holes — it opened up a new way of learning about the universe.
Telescopes were able to observe forms of light, or electromagnetic radiation, from the neutron star collision to provide additional information about the event.