Rays, particles, spacetime waves: Jointly solving the mysteries of space

International conference hosted by the Albert Einstein Institute in Hannover on June 4 – 7, 2012 

May 29, 2012

Physicists and astronomers from a range of research fields have long been working together to clear up open questions relating to astrophysics, astronomy, cosmology and fundamental physics. Now, upon invitation from the AEI Hannover, around 150 scientists from all over the world will meet to present the progress being made in their respective fields, as well as to plan additional cooperative ventures and a joint strategy for the coming years, as well as to define milestones for the near future.

“‘Multi-Messenger-Astronomy’, namely the combination of various astronomical methods, is growing in importance. Over the past few years, we have already been able to show that, through close cooperation, we can learn a lot about our universe and its birth,” says Prof. Dr. Bruce Allen, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute/AEI) in Hannover, who extended the invitation to the conference.

Gravitational wave research has already made a decisive contribution to the mutual efforts: For two years already, the methods developed by Bruce Allen and his team for the search for gravitational waves, are also being successfully employed for the evaluation of radio and gamma signals with the aim of seeking out pulsars - rapidly rotating neutron stars. The scientists have thereby discovered 40 new pulsars which, up to that point, were not able to be found in this telescope data owing to the weakness of their signals.

“Multi-Messenger-Astronomy will receive an additional dimension in 2015/2016, as that’s the time when the next-generation gravitational wave detectors will go into operation. They will be 10-times more sensitive than the previous observatories and will be able to observe 1000 times more astronomical sources. Thus, the direct measurement of spacetime waves is already almost in reach,” explains Bruce Allen.

A particular challenge for the measurement of gravitational waves is the filtering out of signals from a wealth of noise interference. At the AEI Hannover, Bruce Allen and his Department are developing mathematical methods to track down the gravitational wave signals in this noise. These methods are also interesting for other fields in astronomy. Suitable cooperative opportunities could thus play a major role within the framework of the conference.

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