LIGO receives the National Space Club Huntsville Distinguished Science Award

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Since 1988 the National Space Club – Huntsville Chapter has organized the Dr. Wernher von Braun Memorial Dinner held annually in the Fall of each year. This event recognizes notable achievements within the space community, and proceeds from the event are used by the organization to help support the STEM education efforts of a number of non-profit organizations.

This year the NSC-HSV Board of Directors has selected the LIGO Scientific Collaboration to receive its Distinguished Science Award. The purpose of the award is to recognize a scientist or a science team that has made substantial contributions in research and discoveries that expands knowledge and understanding of space. This particular award was established in 2013, and the past awardees were Chryssa Kouveliotou, Steve Squyres, and the MSL Curiosity Team.

In the photo below, Marco Cavaglia (University of Mississippi) and Tyson Littenberg (NASA/MSFC) receive the award on behalf of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration at this year’s Awards Dinner that was held in the Saturn V Hall at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, on Thursday, October 27, 2016.

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Jeremy Sakstein’s visit

Monday, October 31, 2016

Jeremy Sakstein, currently a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, is visiting us this week to give a departmental colloquium, a tutorial on xAct (an add-on package for Mathematica that performs tensor algebra) and a group meeting talk. It will be a busy week - for us and for him. Thanks, Jeremy!

Ulrich Sperhake named APS Fellow

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Ulrich Sperhake, Adjunct Professor at the University of Mississippi and long-term collaborator of our group, is one of the newly elected Fellows of the American Physical Society. A list of all Fellows elected by the Division of Gravitational Physics in 2016 is available here. Congratulations, Uli!

Black Hole Spectroscopy in Physical Review Letters

Friday, September 2, 2016

Our paper Spectroscopy of Kerr black holes with Earth- and space-based interferometers was published today in Physical Review Letters.

Advanced LIGO detected gravitational waves from merging black holes with surprisingly high signal-to-noise ratio. The oscillation frequencies of the merger remnant can be used - just like atomic lines - to do black hole spectroscopy: they will tell us whether the merger remnant is indeed a rotating black hole, as predicted by Einstein’s general relativity. However, black hole spectroscopy requires signal-to-noise ratios higher than the first LIGO detection.

In this paper we use state-of-the-art astrophysical models of black hole formation and a comprehensive catalog of projected noise sensitivities to answer the following question: how many events will allow us to do black hole spectroscopy in the future, as we improve our detectors? Is it sufficient to upgrade Earth-based interferometers or do we need a space-based detector such as eLISA, whose technological feasibility was recently demonstrated by the spectacular success of LISA Pathfinder?

We find that significant improvements in Earth-based detectors (or better data analysis techniques) will be necessary to routinely perform black hole spectroscopy on Earth, while most massive black hole merger detections in space will allow us to test the black hole nature of the remnant.

Research highlights in CQG and PRD

Friday, August 12, 2016

Some papers from our group were recently selected as research highlights in Classical and Quantum Gravity (CQG) and Physical Review D (PRD).

CQG selected two papers by the LIGO collaboration (a review of Advanced LIGO and a paper on detector characterization) as well as our review on tests of general relativity for their annual 2015 Highlights collection.

Today, our paper on astrophysical applications of the post-Tolman-Oppenheimer-Volkoff approximation was published in PRD as an Editor’s Suggestion.