Significant progress has been made in recent years on the development of gravitational-wave detectors. Sources such as coalescing compact binary systems, neutron stars in low-mass X-ray binaries, stellar collapses and pulsars are all possible candidates for detection. The most promising design of gravitational-wave detector uses test masses a long distance apart and freely suspended as pendulums on Earth or in drag-free spacecraft. The main theme of this review is a discussion of the mechanical and optical principles used in the various long baseline systems in operation around the world – LIGO (USA), Virgo (Italy/France), TAMA300 and LCGT (Japan), and GEO600 (Germany/U.K.) – and in LISA, a proposed space-borne interferometer. A review of recent science runs from the current generation of ground-based detectors will be discussed, in addition to highlighting the astrophysical results gained thus far. Looking to the future, the major upgrades to LIGO (Advanced LIGO), Virgo (Advanced Virgo), LCGT and GEO600 (GEO-HF) will be completed over the coming years, which will create a network of detectors with the significantly improved sensitivity required to detect gravitational waves. Beyond this, the concept and design of possible future “third generation” gravitational-wave detectors, such as the Einstein Telescope (ET), will be discussed.
Posts Tagged ‘Gravitational Waves’
Several km-scale gravitational-wave detectors have been constructed world wide. These instruments combine a number of advanced technologies to push the limits of precision length measurement. The core devices are laser interferometers of a new kind; developed from the classical Michelson topology these interferometers integrate additional optical elements, which significantly change the properties of the optical system. Much of the design and analysis of these laser interferometers can be performed using well-known classical optical techniques, however, the complex optical layouts provide a new challenge. In this review we give a textbook-style introduction to the optical science required for the understanding of modern gravitational wave detectors, as well as other high-precision laser interferometers. In addition, we provide a number of examples for a freely available interferometer simulation software and encourage the reader to use these examples to gain hands-on experience with the discussed optical methods.
Gravitational wave detectors are already operating at interesting sensitivity levels, and they have an upgrade path that should result in secure detections by 2014. We review the physics of gravitational waves, how they interact with detectors (bars and interferometers), and how these detectors operate. We study the most likely sources of gravitational waves and review the data analysis methods that are used to extract their signals from detector noise. Then we consider the consequences of gravitational wave detections and observations for physics, astrophysics, and cosmology.