Gravitational-Wave Astrophysics: Getting Ready for the Advanced LIGO Era

Project: Research project

Project Details


The PI's research plan for the continuation of her group's activities falls within the framework of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC) and the Compact Binary Coalescence (CBC) analysis group. It includes projects in the area of astrophysical interpretation of gravitational-wave (GW) signals from binaries with two compact objects, through both GW data analysis, source modeling and interpretation. Effectively the proposed work focuses on developing a concrete framework for the processing of CBC detections (or upper limits) in order to extract the maximal available information for binaries with compact objects with any mass and spin configuration. Specifically the following three main reseach projects are targeted: (i) parameter estimation for CBC events using Markov Chain Monte Carlo methods, including the advancements of algorithms and tools incorporated into the CBC follow-up pipeline, analyses of data from engineering runs, and investigations of: measurement accuracies, parameter degeneracies, and sky-localization capabilities in the context of electromagnetic follow-ups; (ii) the statistical incorporation of CBC rate upper limts and actual measurements as contraints on astrophysical models of compact-object binary formation and evolution; and (iii) the astrophysical interpretation of multiple CBC detections and associated mass and spin measurements, accounting quantitatively for GW observational selection effects. Intellectual Merit: This research focuses on getting ready for the era of advanced detectors and on ways of maximizing the gain from future detections to constrain current theories of compact objects. The PI has significant prior experience in compact-object research and the development of sophisticated computational and Bayesian statistical tools. Broader Impacts: The proposed work is of interest to the broader community of compact-object astrophysics in a wide range of contexts. The Markov Chain Monte Carlo computational tools to be developed will be made available within and outside the LSC, and hence can benefit LSC projects and enhance the research infrastructure for parameter estimation in other scientific and engineering contexts. Outreach activities take advantage of the existing collaboration with the Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum; this connection ensures the broad dissemination of research understanding in the diverse, urban environment of the Chicago metropolitan area. The PI also has an active history and interest in involving undergraduate students in research projects and promotes a framework of peer learning in tutoring and mentoring.
Effective start/end date9/1/138/31/18


  • National Science Foundation (PHY-1307020)


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