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Precise Parameter Estimation of Gravitational Waves Sources of Low and Medium Frequencies

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Hunting waves in space

Gravitational waves have never been directly measured. But, EU-funded scientists have laid the groundwork for the data processing once planned detectors reach the sensitivity needed for the first detections.

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In Einstein's theory of special relativity, gravitation is explained through the curvature of spacetime. Specifically, massive objects bend spacetime, and curvature of spacetime dictates to all objects how to move. Ripples in spacetime caused by the motion of massive objects are referred to as gravitational waves. There is an ongoing research effort to detect gravitational waves using interferometers on the ground and in space. The first detection of gravitational waves is expected within the next few years, and these observations will have the potential to transform our understanding of the Universe. Scientists working on the EU-funded project LOWMEDGWEST (Precise parameter estimation of gravitational waves sources of low and medium frequencies) were involved in this painstaking research effort. Specifically, they developed techniques for information extraction from the observed gravitational waves. A new numerical algorithm relies on a selected subset of data points to approximate the observed waveform with the desired precision. The scientists employed the latest applied mathematics techniques to reduce the computational cost of superposing waveforms. The LOWMEDGWEST methodology can be applied to all types of gravitational wave sources and detectors. Furthermore, scientists worked on new models of extreme and intermediate mass-ratio binary systems. In particular, the impact of transient resonances on such binary systems that leads to changes in their evolution was studied to improve observations with the Evolved Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (ELISA). ELISA will be launched in 2034 to survey the entire Universe directly with gravitational waves. The LOWMEDGWEST project has provided tools and theoretical models that will help discover parts of our Universe that are invisible by other means, such as black holes.

Keywords

Space, gravitational waves, spacetime, interferometers, binary systems

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