“Unifying Tests of General Relativity” Workshop

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Precision tests of general relativity are being developed enthusiastically on many fronts, but there is not enough communication between researchers working across different distance scales — the observables, parametrization frameworks, and even alternative theories are different and hard to compare. The Burke Institute at Caltech is sponsoring a workshop on these topics (Unifying Tests of General Relativity) that will take place on July 19-21, 2016. The workshop will focus on developing a sort of “lingua franca” for those working on cosmological and strong-field tests of gravity, the eventual aim being the ability to usefully interpret observational results across the two fields. The workshop is organized by Emanuele Berti, Phil Bull, Sean Carroll, Yanbei Chen, Olivier Doré, Jérôme Gleyzes and Leo C. Stein.

Update [7/22/2016]: here is a group photo from the workshop!

LIGO detects second pair of colliding black holes

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The two LIGO gravitational wave detectors in Hanford Washington and Livingston Louisiana have caught a second robust signal from two black holes in their final orbits and then their coalescence into a single black hole. Read about the discovery and the contribution of the UM LIGO team to it on UM news.

ICTS Summer School on Gravitational-Wave Astronomy

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The International Center for Theoretical Sciences (Bangalore, India) is organizing a Summer School on Gravitational-Wave Astronomy. The application deadline is June 30. The two-week school (7/25/2016-8/5/2016) will consist of three graduate-level courses in theoretical gravitational-wave physics delivered by Clifford M. Will, Bangalore S. Sathyaprakash and Emanuele Berti.

LISA Pathfinder exceeds expectations

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

LISA Pathfinder, the technology demonstration mission for a space-based detector, demonstrated that two test masses can be put in free fall with a relative acceleration sufficiently free of noise to meet the requirements needed for space-based gravitational-wave detection.

The LISA Pathfinder results were published in Physical Review Letters with a Physics Viewpoint by David Reitze. Pathfinder greatly exceeds the mission requirements set for “differential acceleration noise” (the frequency-dependent residual acceleration between the masses). The most impressive result is that Pathfinder even exceeds the LISA noise requirement over the high-frequency range above 10 mHz, and comes close over much of the low frequency range. Look at that Figure 1 in the paper…

Congratulations to the Pathfinder team!

2016 Shaw Prize in Astronomy and Kavli Prize in Astrophysics

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Two more recognitions for LIGO! The 2016 Shaw Prize in Astronomy  is awarded to Ron Drever, Kip Thorne and Rai Weiss for conceiving and designing the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), whose recent direct detection of gravitational waves opens a new window in astronomy, with the first remarkable discovery being the merger of a pair of stellar mass black holes. The 2016 Kavli Prize in Astrophysics is also awarded to Ron Drever, Kip Thorne and Rai Weiss for the direct detection of gravitational waves. From the Kavli release: “The detection of gravitational waves is an achievement for which hundreds of scientists, engineers and technicians around the world share credit. Drever, Thorne and Weiss stand out: their ingenuity, inspiration, intellectual leadership and tenacity were the driving force behind this epic discovery.”