The Astrophysical and Cosmological Relativity Division
The observation of gravitational waves from coalescing binary black holes and neutron stars provides the unique opportunity to probe fundamental physics, dynamical gravity and matter under extreme conditions. Successful searches, precise inference of astrophysical properties and correct identifications of sources require detailed knowledge of the expected signals.
Scientists in the Astrophysical and Cosmological Relativity division predict accurate waveform models of binary systems in General Relativity by combining fast, but approximate analytical methods, with exact, but time-consuming numerical simulations on high-performance computers. They employ those templates to detect gravitational-wave signals, infer astrophysical and cosmological properties of the sources, and test General Relativity in the highly dynamical, strong-field regime. Waveform models developed by members of the division were employed to identify the gravitational waves observed by Advanced LIGO and Virgo, and were crucial in detecting GW151226, GW170806, and GW170817.
Researchers in the division are members of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, and the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA). The division also participates in building the science case for the next generation of gravitational-wave detectors on the Earth.