Following a major upgrade, the two advanced detectors of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) held their first observation run between September 2015 and January 2016. With a strain sensitivity of 10-23/Hz at 100 Hz, the product of observable volume and measurement time exceeded that of all previous runs within the first 16 days of coincident observation. On September 14, 2015, the Advanced LIGO detectors observed a transient gravitational-wave signal determined to be the coalescence of two black holes [B. P. Abbott et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 116, 061102 (2016)], launching the era of gravitational-wave astronomy. The event, GW150914, was observed with a combined signal-to-noise ratio of 24 in coincidence by the two detectors. Here, we present the main features of the detectors that enabled this observation. At full sensitivity, the Advanced LIGO detectors are designed to deliver another factor of 3 improvement in the signal-to-noise ratio for binary black hole systems similar in mass to GW150914. © 2016 American Physical Society.
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