Gravitational Wave Astronomy

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: School of Physics and Astronomy


The era of gravitational wave astronomy is well and truly with us. Gravitational wave astronomy offers a new medium for us to probe exotic astronomical objects such as black holes and neutron stars. The LIGO and Virgo instruments have now detected the gravitational waves from dozens of pairs of merging black holes and several neutron stars merging with other neutron stars or black holes. Additionally, the next "third" generation of ground-based detectors as well as the planned space-based LISA detector will greatly expand the range of signals we are able to detect.

We expect to observe gravitational wave events with increasing frequency in the near future due to the inclusion of additional ground based detectors in conjunction with detector upgrades. The observed signals in the detectors must be compared against detailed theoretical models to enable us to accurately determine the astrophysical properties of the source systems. These theoretical models will need to be significantly improved to cope with the exquisite, high sensitivity observations promised by the next generation of ground-based gravitational wave detectors, as well as the upcoming space-based detector, LISA. The new generation of gravitational wave instruments will pose new challenges that must be overcome in order to maximise their scientific potential. The astrophysical systems targeted by LISA are different to that of LIGO/VIRGO, thus significant research and development must be conducted on accurate theoretical models for these systems which can be used for analysis. Additionally, the data analysis for LISA will be very different to that of LIGO/VIRGO, therefore the standard analysis method for LISA must be established. Specific LISA challenges include, for example, managing very long duration signals (upto years of data for each event), avoiding confusion when analysing data sets containing multiple simultaneous overlapping gravitational wave signals, and efficiently combining the information from the large numbers of events to learn about the underlying astrophysical processes.

This project will aim to tackle some of these theoretical modelling and data analysis challenges for the next generation of gravitational wave astronomy. This project will use data from the current LIGO and Virgo observational data to test and prototype new algorithms. The research conducted in this project will be applied to the analysis of simulated signals in future gravitational wave detectors with a particular focus on LISA sources. The outputs of this research will be algorithms and code, as well as an understanding of the computational resources required to run them, that can be applied to the new generation of detectors.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ST/W507313/1 30/09/2021 29/09/2025
2595832 Studentship ST/W507313/1 30/09/2021 29/09/2025 Diganta Bandopadhyay