With the recent discovery of gravitational waves, the scientific community will be turning from the quest to confirm Albert Einstein’s prediction to the future of a new branch of astronomy.

As with traditional astronomy, which includes optical, radio and X-ray observations, gravitational wave astronomy can be conducted in a variety of wavelengths to observe different cosmic phenomena.

Opening another observational “window,” UW-Milwaukee physicist Xavier Siemens is leading a consortium of 11 U.S. research institutions that formed the NANOGrav Physics Frontier Center, backed by $14.5 million from the National Science Foundation.

The center will monitor millisecond pulsars – rapidly spinning, super-dense remains of supernovas that emit beams of light on either side, like lighthouses. Scientists expect the regularly timed beams to be disrupted by gravitational waves, revealing their presence.