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Gravitational Wave Science with LIGO

Graduate Research Assistantships are available in gravitational wave (GW) detection and study. Caltech is host to the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) Laboratory (http://www.ligo.caltech.edu/), which is constructing advanced detectors that will begin data-taking in 2015; we expect to make the first detections of GWs in subsequent years. We work closely with the Caltech Theoretical Astrophysics group and several Caltech precision measurement groups, and with the LIGO Scientific Collaboration.

Our instrument science group is working to bring the advanced LIGO detectors to design sensitivity and efficient operation, and to develop enhanced detectors with even finer sensitivity. We are developing the high precision interferometric techniques to make measurements at the scale of 10^-19 m and smaller, in both incremental and dramatic ways. This includes work with ultra low noise lasers, optics, electronics, and adaptive control systems, at the 40 meter scale prototype detector on the Caltech campus and other campus labs. For more information, contact Rana Adhikari at rana@caltech

Our data analysis group pursues research in the detailed modeling and optimal search methods for astrophysical sources, including mergers of neutron stars and black holes binaries, rotating neutron stars, bursts from supernovas, gamma-ray burst engines, and the stochastic waves from the big bang and from many weak sources. We are developing methods to accurately extract the astrophysical parameters from extra-galactic binary mergers, as well as from galactic core collapse supernova. We are also developing methods to perform unique tests of General Relativity and beyond-GR theories using GWs. For more information, contact Alan Weinstein at ajw@ligo.