The future of gravitational wave science
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[email protected] Albert Einstein Institute 18 December 2006. The Future of Gravitational Wave Science. Bernard Schutz Albert Einstein Institute, Potsdam. Detecting the waves: a long quest. Einstein knew they had to be there, but he believed they would be too weak to detect.

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Detecting the waves a long quest
Detecting the waves: a long quest

  • Einstein knew they had to be there, but he believed they would be too weak to detect.

  • Joe Weber built the first detectors, then (1970) believed they were so strong that he had really detected them.

  • LIGO, GEO, VIRGO, TAMA started design in 1980s, building in 1990s, operation very recently.

  • Meanwhile astronomy has made lots of progress, so we know what we are looking for!

Verifying einstein s theory
Verifying Einstein’s theory

  • The first detection will verify Einstein’s theory.

  • We will be looking not just for the wave but for

    • How strong it is

    • How it affects the detectors (polarization)

    • How fast it travels (speed = c?)

Gravitational wave astronomy



Gravitational wave astronomy

  • Many of our sources are the most energetic events in the universe. Detecting and following them up is catastrophe science: rare, exciting, informative.

  • The effect on our detectors is tiny: the detector stretches by less than the diameter of a proton, over a 4-km baseline.

  • Data analysis crucial to separating real waves from local disturbances.

    • Like listening to someone speaking to you over a noisy telephone line.

    • Huge computer power is needed.

    • [email protected] very important to us!

Explosions of stars
Explosions of stars

  • What happens in the very center of the supernova explosion?

Mergers of stars and black holes
Mergers of stars and black holes

  • Can we finally SEE black holes?

Spinning pulsars
Spinning pulsars

  • What do neutron stars look like?

The very early universe
The very early universe

  • Did inflation happen? What led to the laws of physics as we see them now?

Data analysis
Data analysis

  • Data analysis is about listening to all of these signals at once:

    • Identifying type

    • Location on sky

    • Extract understanding

Future lisa detecting waves from space
Future: LISADetecting waves from space

  • Study the early universe back to the first stars and black holes.

  • Measure how the acceleration of the universe has changed in the past.

  • LISA Pathfinder launch 2009

  • LISA itself in 2015, if money permits!

Learn More! Einstein Online at