Gravitational-Wave Research Seminar
Gravitational waves are small perturbations to the spacetime structure of the universe. Predicted to exist by Einstein's Theory of General Relativity, the direct detection of gravitational waves is currently a major goal in experimental astrophysics. The observation of gravitational waves will open a new observational window on the universe, and provide a new testing ground for general relativity. Several large-scale efforts to detect gravitational waves are currently underway worldwide. Of these, the most promising on the five to ten year timescale are ground-based laser interferometers and pulsar timing arrays, which aim to detect gravitational waves in the 10—10^(3) Hz and 10^(-9)—10^(-7) Hz frequency ranges, respectively. In this talk, I will explain how these experiments are complementary and describe some of the progress being made towards the first direct detections. I will also discuss some of the astrophysical implications of a direct detection of gravitational waves and describe how the observations from pulsar timing arrays in particular can be used to robustly test general relativity.