Gravitational Wave Astronomy

Chapter
Part of the Integrated Science & Technology Program book series (ISTP, volume 1)

Abstract

Spacetime is a dynamic and elastic entity both influencing and influenced by the distribution of mass and energy that it contains. As a consequence the accelerated motion of mass and energy can generate ripples or gravitational waves in the fabric of spacetime propagating at the speed of light. Those ripples encode unique information about the source, whatever it is a rapidly rotating neutron star, a binary black-hole system, a supernova or a rapidly changing gravitational field. Today, those ripples could be detected for the first time by instruments monitoring displacements on a scale one million times smaller than a single atom. The ongoing research on gravitational waves will improve our ability to detect and extract unique information from the observed waveforms, test fundamental equations of general relativity, and design increasingly sensitive detectors. The direct detection of gravitational waves is now in sight. It will constitute one of the major scientific discoveries of the next decade.

Keywords

Gravitational waves Black hole physics 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The author acknowledges support from NSF Grant PHY-0903631 and NASA grant NNX09AI81G. The author thanks Walter Jacob for suggestions which helped to improve the prose of the manuscript.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Maryland Center for Fundamental Physics & Joint Space-Science Institute, Department of PhysicsUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA

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