Ilya Mandel - Research Projects

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I am interested in all aspects of the rapidly growing field of gravitational-wave astrophysics. Gravitational waves that will be measured by ground-based and space-based detectors provide a unique way to explore the universe --- to observe in detail a variety of astrophysical and relativistic phenomena. Gravitational waves (GWs) are an integral part of Einstein's theory of general relativity, and were one of the earliest predictions after its formulation. There exists a significant body of indirect evidence for GWs, most famously in the observations of the Hulse-Taylor binary pulsar, which loses orbital energy at a rate that matches the expected value from GW emission. GWs have yet to be observed directly, however, making this a very exciting and challenging time in the development of the field of GW astronomy. The first generation of ground-based interferometric GW detectors is already in operation. The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) has finished a full year of data taking at the designed sensitivity. In 2014-2015 Advanced LIGO detectors are expected to begin operating at sensitivities ~ 10-15 times greater than Initial LIGO. These detectors will be able to detect GWs from inspirals, mergers, and ringdowns associated with coalescences of compact binary systems composed of neutron stars (NSs) or black holes (BHs). Although estimates of the rates of such coalescences cover a rather wide range, Advanced LIGO may be able to detect tens to hundreds of these events per year. A proposed space-based detector, the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA), will complement the ground-based detectors by being sensitive to waves at a lower frequency than ground-based detectors, with a peak sensitivity at a few mHz vs. ~ 150 Hz for LIGO. LISA will thus be able to detect Galactic white-dwarf (WD) binaries, massive black-hole (MBH) binary inspirals, and inspirals of stellar-mass compact objects into MBHs. In this era, when detections will become routine, GW astrophysics will be able to illuminate many of the mysteries of the most energetic phenomena in the universe. However, to take full advantage of the wealth of information that will be available, it is incumbent to begin preparations for source analysis, data analysis, and astrophysical investigation today. I am working in some of the following projects toward the goal of ensuring that we are adequately prepared to engage in GW astrophysics:

Last edited December 29, 2008.