Schedule Feb 20, 2002
Theoretical and Experimental Aspects in the Search for Gravitational Waves
Dr. Alessandra Buonanno, Caltech & Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris
A network of broadband ground-based laser interferometers, aimed at detecting gravitational waves in the frequency band 10 - 10^4 Hz, will begin operations during the next years. After a general introduction to gravitational-wave physics and an overview of the most promising astrophysical sources, we focus on some theoretical and experimental issues. More specifically, we discuss the accuracy in knowing the two-body problem in general relativity to predict the gravitational signal emitted by inspiraling compact binaries made of black holes and/or neutron stars, and the complications that arise due to spin-precession, non-linear and relativistic effects during the last stage of inspiral before coalescence. Laser interferometer gravitational-wave detectors represent a very high experimental challenge. After summarizing the main sources of noises which limits the interferometer sensitivity, we show how choosing appropriate optical configurations in advanced detectors is possible to reduce the quantum noise, pushing it beyond the so-called standard- quantum-limit for free masses. Further, we discuss how with new technologies and new designs we expect to improve the performances in the future, thus increasing significantly the number of event rates for various astrophysical sources.

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