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Measurement of minuscule forces and displacements with ever greater precision encounters a limit imposed by a pillar of quantum mechanics: the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. A limit to the precision with which the position of an object can be measured continuously is known as the standard quantum limit (SQL) [1–4]. When light is used as the probe, the SQL arises from the balance between the uncertainties of photon radiation pressure imposed on the object and of the photon number in the photoelectric detection. The only possibility surpassing the SQL is via correlations within the position/momentum uncertainty of the object and the photon number/phase uncertainty of the light it reflects [5]. Here, we experimentally prove the theoretical prediction that this type of quantum correlation is naturally produced in the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO). Our measurements show that the quantum mechanical uncertainties in the phases of the 200 kW laser beams and in the positions of the 40 kg mirrors of the Advanced LIGO detectors yield a joint quantum uncertainty a factor of 1.4 (3 dB) below the SQL. We anticipate that quantum correlations will not only improve gravitational wave (GW) observatories but all types of measurements in future.


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