Rochester Institute of Technology

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Fully Relativistic Studies of Black Hole Binaries with Applications to Gravitational Wave Observations
PI: Carlos Lousto; Co-PI(s): Manuela Campanelli, Richard O'Schaughnessy and Yosef Zlochower
Award: NSF PHY-1912632 Dates: 01/09/2019—07/08/2022; Funds: $450,000


Gravitational Wave Astronomy promises to provide a revolutionary new view of the universe that can probe previously unknown regions, including the interiors of neutron stars, collisions of black holes, which emit energy at luminosities exceeding the entire visible universe, and even remnants of the big bang. To gain new insights into the dynamics of the universe, gravitational wave astronomers need to be able to infer the nature of the sources from the observed signals. The physical parameters of these sources can be extracted from the observed signals if the dependence of the waveform on source parameters is known to sufficiently high-accuracy. This award supports the numerical modeling of merging black-hole binaries using simulations on supercomputers. These simulations will allow a deeper understanding of extreme gravity phenomena as well as tests of Einstein's theory of general relativity in strong field regimes.

The principal goals of this research will be to produce waveforms for LIGO source parametrization efforts, and to model the remnant mass, spin, and gravitational recoil from highly-precessing spinning binary black holes in order to these parameters and how they affect the spatial distribution and growth of black holes. The PI's team will produce and publicly release gravitational waveforms in previously unsampled regions of parameter space for LIGO data analysis, to directly use these waveforms for studies and modeling of binary black holes dynamics, and will improve the accuracy and efficiency of the numerical simulations. This project will keep the RIT group at the forefront of black holes supercomputer simulations involving students and postdoctoral fellows.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.