Making waves with new gravitational research

Researchers from the University of Nottingham have been awarded just over £500k to probe the darkest and most exciting corners of the universe with gravitational wave astronomy.

The funding is part of £9.4 million investment by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) for universities and institutes to continue ground-breaking science in gravitational wave research.

Researchers at the University of Nottingham will be furthering understanding of this relatively new area of research by developing the tools for modelling the imprint of new physics on gravitational wave signals and for searching for that imprint in the data.

Professor of Gravitational Physics, Thomas Sotiriou explains:”The first detection of gravitational waves happened in 2015, although the observed signal came from a collision of two black holes happened about a billion years earlier! This event heralded the birth of a new research field: gravitational wave astronomy. Gravitational waves have become the new way to probe the darkest and most exciting corners of the universe – precisely the places where new fundamental physics might be at play. This tremendous discovery potential comes with a challenge: one needs to develop the tools for modelling the imprint of new physics on gravitational wave signals and for searching for that imprint in the data. This is the challenge that we aim to tackle with the support of the new STFC Consolidated grant on Gravitational Waves.”

The University of Nottingham has a wealth of expertise in the study of gravity – from quantum gravity and cosmology to black holes and table-top experiments. It is launching the Nottingham Centre of Gravity to bring together these research areas and expand into new ones. The centre will be built on six overlapping pillars of gravitational research:

fundamental physics, mathematics, cosmology, relativistic astrophysics, experiment, and data & modeling.

I am delighted that we have been awarded a new consolidated grant on gravitational waves by STFC. Nottingham has a strong international reputation in gravity which we are growing with the launch of the new centre. The grant will support our effort to expand in one fo the most exciting areas in the interface of astrophysics, cosmology, and fundamental physics.

Professor Grahame Blair, STFC Executive Director of Programmes, said: “Gravitational wave research is dynamic and fast-moving, with astronomers first witnessing these ripples in space-time a few short years ago. But for these detections to occur, it took decades of groundwork from theorists, scientists and engineers.

“Today, we are now seeing the fruits of that hard work pay off with new observations and new results coming with heartening regularity. Continuing to fund this research is vital in enhancing our understanding of the Universe and STFC is proud of the role it plays in this endeavour.”

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