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Gravitational Waves & Multi-Messenger Astronomy

Gravitational Wave Data Analysis, Black Hole & Neutron Star Mergers, Gravitational Wave Sources & Their Electromagnetic Counterparts

Image Credit: NSF/LIGO/Sonoma State University/A. Simonnet

As a discipline, astronomy is constantly being pushed forward by new technologies that transform how we observe the Universe. Multi-messenger astronomy is the synthesis of observations using light, gravitational waves, and astro particles. Combining different information from different types of signals allows us to better understand the underlying physical processes that govern how astrophysical systems evolve and change, and helps us get a better handle on the uncertainties and statistics that are inherent to every observation we make. Additionally, numerical simulations are another type of “messenger” that can be combined with observations to better understand astrophysical phenomena. In CIERA, we have broad expertise and interest in multi-messenger astronomy, particularly at the interface of electromagnetic and gravitational-wave observations.

Research at CIERA

Compact objects, such as black holes, neutron stars, and white dwarfs, often exist in pairs which eventually merge. These systems are strong sources of gravitational waves, and their nature and the environment in which they reside has a profound effect on possible associated electromagnetic signatures.

Professor Fong’s group looks for EM counterparts to GW events with observing programs in Hawaii, Chile, and Arizona. They are particularly interested in studying short gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) whose progenitors are likely neutron star mergers with other neutron stars or black holes.

Professor Margutti’s group makes observations of GW counterparts, studying the non-thermal emission associated with the formation and launching of relativistic jets by the compact merger in X-rays and radio.

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