In this project, data will be analyzed from gravitational wave detectors including the Laser Interferometric Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) to search for gravitational waves from astrophysical objects. There are two main targets of this project: rapidly rotating neutron stars (extremely dense objects more massive than the sun and the size of a city, spinning tens to hundreds of times every second), and binary systems of black holes and/or neutron stars in the last seconds of the breakdown of their orbits due to GW emission.
Gravitational waves, distortions of the geometry and space and time predicted by Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, provide a new window on the universe, allowing us to supplement information available from different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum and from cosmic ray and neutrino observations. A modern generation of gravitational wave detectors including LIGO holds the prospect of of the first direct gravitational wave detection in the near future. The research supported by this award will involve faculty and students of the Rochester Institute of Technology in the quest for that first detection and the resulting groundbreaking expansion of our knowledge of the universe. In addition to the search for gravitational waves, visualizations of gravitational-wave propagation and detection which will aid the general public's understanding of the science done by LIGO.