Gravitational Wave Astronomy Aspen Summer Workshop

May 25, 2008 - June 13, 2008


With a large number of currently operating and planned gravitational wave detectors covering a wide range of frequencies from nHz to kHz, gravitational wave astronomy is poised to become one of the most exciting fields of physics and astronomy in the 21st century. Advanced detectors like LISA and an upgraded LIGO will observe astronomical sources of gravitational waves ranging from nearby stellar binaries to high-redshift supermassive black hole coalescences. From these observations will emerge new insights into structure of white dwarfs and neutron stars, the role that stellar and intermediate mass black holes play in dynamical systems, and large scale structure and structure formation in the early universe. This workshop will bring together astronomers, astrophysicists, and gravitational wave scientists with the goal of building synergistic collaborations focused on the interpretation of gravitational wave observations as a tool of astronomical discovery and a probe of the fundamental physics of gravity. The workshop will be organized about three broad, science-focused themes that together span the science that gravitational wave observations will enable:

  1. Large Scale Structure and the Early Universe
    (e.g., gravitational-wave background and massive black hole coalescences in galactic centers)
  2. Dynamical Systems
    (e.g., stellar- and intermediate-mass black holes in dense stellar systems)
  3. Compact Object Physics
    (e.g., core-collapse supernovae, white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes in binaries)

Each week of the workshop will focus on one of the three broad astrophysics themes. Each week will begin with a few overview talks describing the large, outstanding questions in the area of that week's theme, and the relevant capabilities of current gravitational wave detectors and those that may be realized over the next 10-20 years. Formation of collaborations and discussions of individual work will occur during more informal meetings and talks arranged by the participants during the week. Each week will end with a few ``wrap-up'' presentations by participants, chosen by the organizers, that will highlight important progress in understanding made during the week.