More than a billion years ago two black holes in the distant universe spiraled around each other in a deathly dance until they merged. This spiraling collision was so violent that it shook the fabric of spacetime, sending perturbations— gravitational waves—rippling outward through the cosmos at the speed of light. In September 2015, after traveling more than a billion light-years, those ripples washed over our planet, registering as a “chirp” in the sensors of the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO).