Gravitational Waves

Professor Thomas Moore is a theoretical physicist whose primary research activity involves the preparing for space-based gravitational wave detectors. The theory of general relativity predicts that gravitational waves exist, but they have never been measured. A proposed European Space Agency spacecraft called eLISA/NGO (http://elisa-ngo.org) would be able to measure gravitational waves from binary star and binary black-hole systems, opening a new era of gravitational wave astronomy. Dr. Moore’s research involves the development of a computer model that simulates the production of gravitational waves from such binary systems and their detection by eLISA (which inevitably adds noise to the signal). The model then calculate how the noise affects our ability to determine the physical parameters of these binary systems. When eLISA actually flies, this research will help scientists sift through the observed waveforms and interpret the results.

Dr. Moore and his student collaborators are currently working on upgrading the computer model to handle binaries with significant spins. This is a major upgrade that began several years ago but there is still much work to be done. Summer research students have also worked with the existing model to systematically explore the effects of noise on our ability to determine parameters of the binary system, and look into patterns in the interrelation between parameter values and their uncertainties.

Student Research

An artists impression of the propagation of gravitational waves through space

An artists impression of the propagation of gravitational waves through space (NASA)