Facilities and Movies

Laser Interferometric Gravitational Observatory (LIGO)

The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) is a facility dedicated to the detection of gravitational waves and the harnessing of these waves for scientific research. It consists of two widely separated installations within the United States, operated in unison as a single observatory. When it reaches maturity, by the end of this decade, this observatory will be open for use by the national community and will become part of a planned worldwide network of gravitational-wave observatories.

The MSU gravity group is a member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC). As such, the MSU group is involved in the development and implementation of data analysis tools to aid in the extraction of gravitational wave signals from LIGO data. Our efforts concentrate on inspiral, merger and ringdown signals, emitted in the coalescence of compact binaries.

Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA)

The Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) was a joint NASA-ESA project to develop and operate a space-based gravitational wave detector sensitive at frequencies between 0.03 mHz and 0.1 Hz. LISA's goal was to detect gravitational-wave induced strains in space-time by measuring changes of the separation between fiducial masses in three spacecraft 5 million kilometers apart. Due to budgetary constraints in 2010-2012, the classic LISA mission was not chosen by ESA in their 2011 mission selection. The european scientific community, however, is putting forth a proposal for a LISA-like mission (eLISA) to ESA's 2012 mission selection, which is likely to be selected.

LISA will discover many extraordinary astrophysical sources: tens to hundreds of inspiraling and merging massive black hole binaries out to a redshift of z ~20; tens of stellar-mass compact objects spiraling into central massive black holes out to z ~1; more than ten thousand close, compact binaries in the Galaxy; a sky map of the background made by millions more; and possibly backgrounds of cosmological origins. The all-sky instrument will see thousands of sources in the first few months of operation.. Astrophysical parameters, such as mass, spin and luminosity distance, of many sources will be measured with uncommon precision. General Relativity will be put to the test like never before.

The MSU gravity group is involved in the eLISA effort, with NASA likely to be a junior ESA partner. We focus on research in the science aspects of the eLISA mission, from data analysis to theoretical waveform modeling. Prof. Cornish is the head of NASA's gravitational wave Science group, while Assistant Professor Yunes is the head of the Testing Fundamental Physics Subgroup of this same NASA effort.


See "Gavitational Wave Movies".