A new era in gravity …

Is Einstein right? My group uses the power of gravitational wave astronomy to answer this question. Gravitational waves generated from coalescing compact objects like black holes are probes into the strong-field gravitational interaction. Our goal is to not only understand gravitational interactions of compact binaries, but to use our knowledge to predict and test the theory of relativity in the strong-field regime. The detection of gravitational waves and the many black hole binary events makes this an exciting time to conduct this research.

The field of numerical relativity is dedicated to solving the Einstein equations that given the dynamics of two black holes in orbit around each other and their collision. We use numerical relativity to see how Einstein’s theory predicts that black holes will produce gravitational waves. Taken with the observations of gravitational waves by LIGO (and in the future LISA) we have a unique and timely opportunity to probe our Universe in gravitational waves, revealing if Einstein’s view of gravity is correct.

The header image is the time series derived from the gravitational radiation emitted from the collision of two black holes along a line of side. The black holes orbit and eventually merge to form a single, final black hole. The next image down the page image is a spatial slice of the gravitational waves from a single instant of time.