CSUF Scientists Key in New Discovery
Read's colleagues, CSUF physicists Joshua Smith and Geoffrey Lovelace — all members of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration — along with undergraduates Erick Leon and Isabella Molina, postdoctoral research associate Marissa Walker, computation specialist Joseph Areeda and CSUF alumnus Torrey Cullen, a doctoral student at Louisiana State University, also contributed to this latest scientific finding and are co-authors of the neutron star discovery paper. Read's undergraduate students worked with LIGO and Virgo scientists across the globe to check and confirm the reliability of the data analysis.
"We are so fortunate to have Jocelyn, one of the world’s neutron star experts, at Cal State Fullerton," said Smith, associate professor of physics and Dan Black Director of Gravitational- Wave Physics and Astronomy. "I am extremely proud of the role that she and our students have played in this foundational discovery in astronomy."
The Cal State Fullerton physicists and their students at the Gravitational-Wave Physics and Astronomy Center contributed significantly to the first discovery of gravitational waves in 2015 — a milestone in the fields of physics and astronomy. This detection of gravitational waves from the collision of two black holes in galaxy a billion light years away confirmed Einstein's 1915 general theory of relativity. Over the last five years, the CSUF researchers have garnered more than $4.2 million in external grant funding for their work in gravitational-wave astronomy.
LIGO has since announced three more gravitational wave detections from binary black hole systems, including a Sept. 27 announcement of the first joint detection by both LIGO and Virgo detectors. Smith and Lovelace were instrumental in helping to write the journal paper, published Oct. 6 in Physical Review Letters, modeling the black holes that emitted the waves and checking the quality of the detector data.
Read — and her CSUF colleagues and students — looks forward to more neutron star mergers and other history-making astronomical discoveries.
"Seeing this signal of gravitational waves from neutron stars so early in Advanced LIGO’s observations suggests that the best is yet to come. Like we found for merging black holes, the universe is rich with these gravitational-wave signals," she said. "I can’t wait to see what we’ll be able to learn in the coming years."
About LIGO and Virgo
LIGO is funded by the NSF, and operated by Caltech and MIT, which conceived of LIGO and led the Initial and Advanced LIGO projects. Financial support for the Advanced LIGO project was led by the NSF with Germany (Max Planck Society), the U.K. (Science and Technology Facilities Council) and Australia (Australian Research Council) making significant commitments and contributions to the project. More than 1,200 scientists and some 100 institutions from around the world participate in the effort through the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, which includes the GEO Collaboration and the Australian collaboration OzGrav. Additional partners are listed online at http://ligo.org/partners.php
The Virgo collaboration consists of more than 280 physicists and engineers belonging to 20 different European research groups: six from Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in France; eight from the Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN) in Italy; two in the Netherlands with Nikhef; the MTA Wigner RCP in Hungary; the POLGRAW group in Poland; Spain with the University of Valencia; and the European Gravitational Observatory, EGO, the laboratory hosting the Virgo detector near Pisa in Italy, funded by CNRS, INFN, and Nikhef.
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