In September 2015, gravitational waves from the collision of black holes were discovered for the first time on Earth by the LIGO gravitational wave detectors, capping a world-wide, multi-decade intense theoretical and experimental effort. This first discovery of gravitational waves was recognized with the Physics Nobel Prize in 2017. Since this first discovery, several more observations of gravitational wave events have deepened our understanding of the extreme, astrophysical phenomena in our Universe. In particular, on August 17, 2017, LIGO and Virgo detected for the first time gravitational waves from the inspiral and merger of neutron stars. The neutron star collision produced a plethora of electromagnetic signals, which were observed as a gamma-ray-burst, and in every other part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Both branches of the AEI — at Hannover and Potsdam — played a leading role in these extraordinary scientific breakthroughs, on all fronts: theoretical, observational, and experimental. These discoveries have boosted the field of gravitational wave astronomy in an unprecedented way worldwide, and heralded the era of multi-messenger astronomy. Simultaneously, the space-based LISA mission which will study gravitational waves at a distinct and complementary low-frequency window was adopted by the European Space Agency, and is now moving forward rapidly. Furthermore, the gravitational wave community is currently building the science case for new facilities on the ground, the so-called third-generation (3G) detectors, such as the Einstein Telescope and Cosmic Explorer, which will make it possible to observe other gravitational wave sources, such as pulsars and supernovae, unveiling formation scenarios of compact-object binaries and neutron-star composition with exquisite accuracy.
Graduate education in Gravitational-Wave Astrophysics and Astronomy at the AEI
The AEI has two IMPRS: One dedicated to Quantum Gravity in Potsdam, and one dedicated to Gravitational Wave Astronomy - this IMPRS. It has two branches, one in Hannover on experimental and observational aspects of gravitational-wave astronomy, and one in Potsdam on theoretical and numerical aspects.
The two recently established divisions at the AEI-Potsdam participating in this IMPRS are the “Astrophysical and Cosmological Relativity” division led by Dr. Alessandra Buonanno, and the “Computational Relativistic Astrophysics” division, led by Dr. Masaru Shibata. The partner institutions in this branch of the Gravitational-Wave IMPRS are the University of Potsdam, the Humboldt University of Berlin, and the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics [XXX link to all].
For more information on the scientific divisions and research groups, please see "Divisions and groups" below. (insert LINK)