Resolving relativistic compact binaries using gravitational waves

In late 2015, the Advanced LIGO-Virgo collaboration announced the first detections of a number of binary black holes using gravitational waves.  These detections have opened up the new field of gravitational wave astronomy.  In the next few years, there are a number of planned science runs that should provide many more detections.  An important aspect of the detection process is the fast and accurate estimation of the astrophysical parameters of the system.  We currently collaborate with 83 telescopes, satellites and neutrino detectors around the world.  To search for an electromagnetic counterpart, these projects need a fast estimation of the sky location and the distance to the object.  By accurately measuring quantities such as the masses and spins of the binary, we can begin to make statements on the astrophysical distribution of compact binaries in our universe, test astrophysical formation-channel models and test deviations from general relativity.  As the detectors become more sensitive at lower frequencies, the duration of the signal increases.  This will lead to computational issues for the current analysis methods, especially in the case of binary neutron stars.  The goal of this thesis is to investigate and develop new parameter estimation algorithms within the Compact Binary Coalescence (CBC) goup of the LIGO-Virgo collaboration.   These algorithms will be used to analyse gravitational wave data from the Advanced LIGO-Virgo detectors.  An application of these algorithms to the future space-based LISA detector will also be investigated.

The applicant should have a strong interest in general relativity, astrophysics, Bayesian inference and algorithmic development.


Ed Porter






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