Archive for gravitational waves

The STFC ‘Breadth of Programme’ Exercise

Posted in Science Politics with tags , , , , , on April 26, 2017 by telescoper

I suddenly realized this morning that I there was a bit of community service I meant to do when I got back from vacations, namely to pass on to astronomers and particle physicists a link to the results of the latest Programmatic Review (actually ‘Breadth of Programme’ Exercise) produced by the Science and Technology Facilities Council.

It’s a lengthy document, running to 89 pages, but it’s a must-read if you’re in the UK and work in area of science under the remit of STFC. There was considerable uncertainty about the science funding situation anyway because of BrExit, and that has increased dramatically because of the impending General Election which will probably kick quite a few things into the long grass, quite possibly delaying the planned reorganization of the research councils. Nevertheless, this document is well worth reading as it will almost certainly inform key decisions that will have to be made whatever happens in the broader landscape. With `flat cash’ being the most optimistic scenario, increasing inflation means that some savings will have to be found so belts will inevitable have to be tightened. Moreover, there are strong strategic arguments that some areas should grow, rather than remain static, which means that others will have to shrink to compensate.

There are 29 detailed recommendations and I can’t discuss them all here, but here are a couple of tasters:

The E-ELT is the European Extremely Large Telescope, in case you didn’t know.

Another one that caught my eye is this:

I’ve never really understood why gravitational-wave research came under ‘Particle Astrophysics’ anyway, but given their recent discovery by Advanced LIGO there is a clear case for further investment in future developments, especially because the UK community is currently rather small.

Anyway, do read the document and, should you be minded to do so, please feel free to comment on it below through the comments box.

 

 

Infinite LIGO Dreams

Posted in Art, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , , on November 28, 2016 by telescoper

There was a special event in the School of Physics & Astronomy here at Cardiff University on Friday afternoon – the unveiling of a new work of art in our coffee area. The work, a large oil painting, called Infinite LIGO Dreams by local artist Penelope Rose Cowley was inspired by the detection of gravitational waves earlier this year:

 

gravitational-wave-artwork-copyright-penelope-cowley-16x9

You can read more about this work, and the circumstances behind its creation, at the Cardiff University website and via the Physics World blog. If you like the piece you can order a poster-sized print from Penelope Cowleys’s own website here.

The unveiling of this artwork was preceded by a drinks reception, which probably accounts for the errors that crept into the blog post I wrote on Friday after the party!

 

Cardiff: Centre of Gravity

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , on November 17, 2016 by telescoper

It’s a very busy period for me as the Cardiff University Data Innovation Research Institute (DII) gears up for some exciting new activities in both teaching and research (of which more in due course) and embarks on is strategy for promoting and fostering interdisciplinary research across Cardiff University and beyond.

Yesterday, however, I attended an informal meeting in the School of Physics & Astronomy at which we had an update about other strategic developments in the Gravitational Physics Group, some of whose members work in the DII Following on from the first-ever detection of gravitational waves earlier this year the group has ambitious plans to build on its involvement in this discovery. Here’s a nice short video produced by Cardiff University that discusses this discovery:

 

 

Cardiff University has supported research on gravitational waves for a very long time, and it is important that it reaps the benefit now that its investment is starting to pay off. To rest on laurels at this stage would be to risk losing the benefits of that sustained investment. It was very exciting to hear about the group’s plans for further sustained expansion, which will make the Cardiff one of the leading centres of gravitational wave research  in the world.

I’ve already mentioned on this blog that a couple of new positions have already been advertised, one in gravitational wave astronomy (to consolidate existing activities in theory and data analysis) and the other in a completely new area of Gravitational Wave Experimentation. Those advertisements have now closed and the process of filling the vacancies is under way.

However, yesterday we heard of even more expansion of gravitational physics research, in the form of a new academic position in Time Domain Astronomy with particular emphasis on transient sources of electromagnetic radiation that could be associated with gravitational wave production (such as gamma-ray bursts). I’ll post the advertisement on this blog when it is available. And that’s just the start: further positions will be released over the next few years which will turn Cardiff into a true Centre of Gravity.

Exciting times!

Formation of black holes in the dark [HEAP]

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , on September 28, 2016 by telescoper

Given the title of my website I could hardly resist reblogging this arXiver post. I’m not an expert on Black Hole (BH) formation, so would be interested to hear opinions on how plausible is this idea that massive BHs might form via implosion rather than following a Supernova explosion.

arXiver

http://arxiv.org/abs/1609.08411

A binary black hole (BBH) with components of 30-40 solar masses as the source of gravitational waves GW150914 can be formed from a relatively isolated binary of massive stars if both BHs are formed by implosion, namely, by complete or almost complete collapse of massive stars with no energetic SNe accompanied by a sudden mass loss that would significantly reduce the mass of the compact objects, and in most cases unbind the binary system. BBHs can also be formed by dynamical interactions in globular clusters, if the BHs are formed with no energetic SNe that would kick the BHs out from the cluster before BBH formation. Besides, if BHs of ~10 solar masses as in the source GW151226 are formed by implosion, the formation of BBHs would be prolific, and their fusion would make an important contribution to a stochastic gravitational wave background. Theoretical models set mass ranges for…

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!Happy Birthday GW150914!

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , , on September 14, 2016 by telescoper

A birthday message to the first gravitational wave source to be detected, from my new office mate, Bernard Schutz!

The Rumbling Universe

Just a year ago today, after travelling some 1.4 billion years, the gravitational wave chirp we christened GW150914 passed through Earth. It disturbed the two gravitational wave detectors of the LIGO observatory enough for us to notice it, to get excited about it, and to get a large fraction of the general public excited about it! But GW150914 just kept on going and is now one further year along in its journey through the Universe. And it will keep going, spreading out and getting weaker but not otherwise being much disturbed, forever. Literally forever.

And GW150914 hardly noticed us! When we observe the Universe with our telescopes, detecting light or radio waves or gamma rays from the enormous variety of luminous objects out there, we capture the energy that enters our telescopes. The photons from a distant star terminate their journeys in our telescopes, leaving a tiny hole in the…

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Theory of Gravitational Waves [CL]

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags on September 8, 2016 by telescoper

Since gravitational waves are quite the thing these days I thought I’d reblog this arXiver post of a nice review article that covers all the basics for the benefit of anyone interested in finding about a bit more about the subject.

arXiver

http://arxiv.org/abs/1607.04202

The existence of gravitational radiation is a natural prediction of any relativistic description of the gravitational interaction. In this chapter, we focus on gravitational waves, as predicted by Einstein’s general theory of relativity. First, we introduce those mathematical concepts that are necessary to properly formulate the physical theory, such as the notions of manifold, vector, tensor, metric, connection and curvature. Second, we motivate, formulate and then discuss Einstein’s equation, which relates the geometry of spacetime to its matter content. Gravitational waves are later introduced as solutions of the linearized Einstein equation around flat spacetime. These waves are shown to propagate at the speed of light and to possess two polarization states. Gravitational waves can interact with matter, allowing for their direct detection by means of laser interferometers. Finally, Einstein’s quadrupole formulas are derived and used to show that nonspherical compact objects moving at relativistic speeds are powerful gravitational wave…

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Jobs in Gravitational Waves at Cardiff University

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , on September 5, 2016 by telescoper

Gradually settling back in here to the School of Physics & Astronomy at Cardiff University, I thought I’d indulge  in a bit of promotional activity and point out that, following on from the recent detection of gravitational waves by the Advanced LIGO Consortium, of which  Cardiff University is a member, there are two opportunities open for jobs in gravitational physics.

One is in the area of Gravitational Wave Astronomy. Here is the blurb:

The current Cardiff Gravitational Physics group has expertise in gravitational-wave data analysis, numerical relativity and source modelling, and astrophysical interpretation, and consists of four full-time and two part-time academic staff, two research fellows, five postdoctoral researchers and nine PhD students. Our research is supported by the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), the Royal Society, and the European Horizon 2020 programme. The group is a founding member of GEO600, a member of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) Scientific Collaboration and has played a leading role in these collaborations from their inception through to the recent first direct detection of gravitational waves, and is also active in planning and development of future detectors, such as LIGO-India, Einstein Telescope and Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA).

This new appointment is part of a long-term expansion of the group, to broaden and strengthen our current research in gravitational-wave astronomy, and to build a world-leading group in gravitational-wave experimentation.

For the full advertisement, links to further particulars etc, see here.

The other is the area of Gravitational Wave Experimentation:

The current Cardiff Gravitational Physics group has expertise in gravitational-wave data analysis, numerical relativity and source modelling, and astrophysical interpretation, and consists of four full-time and two part-time academic staff, two research fellows, five postdoctoral researchers and nine PhD students. Our research is supported by the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), the Royal Society, and the European Horizon 2020 programme. The group is a founding member of GEO600, a member of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory ( LIGO) Scientific Collaboration and has played a leading role in these collaborations from their inception through to the recent first direct detection of gravitational waves, and is also active in planning and development of future detectors, such as LIGO-India, Einstein Telescope and Laser Interferometer Space Antenna ( LISA).

This new appointment is part of a long-term expansion of the group, to broaden and strengthen our current research in gravitational-wave astronomy, and to build a world-leading group in gravitational-wave experimentation, with additional appointments expected in the near future.

For full details on this one see here.

The second appointment is intended to build on existing strengths by adding a more experimental dimension to Cardiff’s research in Gravitational Waves.