"Before this, we didn't even know that black holes existed in pairs," University of Florida physicist David Reitze, now serving as LIGO director at the California Institute of Technology, told the House Science Committee last week.
"It's the start of a new astronomy," added Massachusetts Institute of Technology physicist David Shoemaker.
The LIGO detectors collected data for another three months, then shut down to prepare for an even larger boost in sensitivity.
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Additional findings have yet to be released, but Louisiana State University physicist Gabriela González, a spokeswoman for the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, hinted to legislators that the detection of the merging black holes was not a solitary event.
"We saw one event in one month ... so we can only predict from that data. But we have taken data for three more months, which we are still analyzing and everything that we see is consistent with what we saw there," Gonzalez said.
From theoretical models, scientists expect to be able to detect at least a few gravitational wave events per year, she added.