Gravitational Wave Astronomy Aspen Summer Workshop

May 25, 2008 - June 13, 2008


Christian Ott's colloquium slides from May 29 are available here.

Program of Activites


Large Scale Structure and the Early Universe

Pulsar timing arrays and planned space-based detectors operating at frequencies ranging from nHz to 10 Hz offer the possibility of observing the primordial gravitational wave background arising from exotic or early-universe phenomena, the formation of massive black holes, and the inspiral and merger of massive black hole binaries at redshifts as great as 30. Detectors operating in the 10-1000 Hz band may be sensitive to neutron star and stellar mass black hole mergers out to redshift 1. For these inspiral and merger events, the gravitational wave observations will also provide a direct measurement of the luminosity distance to the source. These observations will provide important clues to when massive black holes form, how they evolve, the role they play in the formation of galaxy clusters and individual galaxies. The identification of electromagnetic counterparts to distant coalescence events will provide an independent measurement of the Hubble expansion and a probe of Dark Energy. Observations of massive black hole coalescence, or black hole formation, will allow us to test our understanding of gravity. In this theme we will explore how the evidence provided by gravitational wave observations - alone or in concert with electromagnetic observations - can help us improve our understanding of structure formation and the early universe.

Dynamical Systems

Proposed detectors operating in the 0.1 - 100 mHz band will be sensitive to gravitational radiation from intermediate mass black hole binaries to moderate redshift, stellar mass binaries involving neutron stars or black holes throughout the local group, and the inspiral of neutron stars or stellar or intermediate mass black holes about supermassive black holes at intermediate redshifts. Detectors operating in the 10-1000 Hz band will be sensitive to the coalescences of neutron star and black hole binaries, and the ringdown from the formation of intermediate mass black holes in nearby galaxies. The numbers of these systems and their association with nearby galaxies and globular clusters will dramatically improve our understanding of the role binaries play in the evolution and dynamics of globular clusters, galactic nuclei, and other dense stellar systems. Observation of the inspiral of stellar mass or intermediate mass black holes onto supermassive black holes may provide us an opportunity to map the spacetime structure in the neighborhood of the supermassive black hole, testing our understanding of gravity. In this theme we will explore how gravitational wave observations can help us improve our understanding of dense dynamical systems and their evolution.

Compact Object Physics

Operating and planned detectors in the 0.1 - 100 mHz band, and in the 10 - 1000 Hz band, offer the possibility of observing core-collapse supernovae, close and interacting white dwarf binaries, and rapidly rotating neutron stars in our own galaxy; coalescing binary neutron star systems at hundreds of Mpc; and coalescing stellar mass black hole binaries at Gpc distances. Observations of the gravitational waves from core-collapse supernovae are a direct window onto the dynamics of collapsed core and proto-neutron star. Observations of interacting white dwarf binaries will provide clues to the details of mass transfer in these systems, which is of great importance to our understanding of binary stellar evolution. Observation of the gravitational radiation from rapidly rotating neutron star and coalescing neutron star binaries can constrain the nuclear and supernuclear equation of state. Observations of coalescing black hole binaries will reveal their component masses and spins and will provide important clues to the formation and evolution of the massive stars from which they originate. In this theme we will explore how to use gravitational wave observations as a probe of compact object physics and astrophysics.

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