UWM Physics Researchers Lead a New Effort to Detect Gravitational Waves

A research team, led by physicists at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee (UWM), will attempt to detect low-frequency gravitational waves. The discovery of such gravitational waves will provide a new picture of the universe and confirm one of the last unresolved predictions of Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity. Current cosmological theories indicate that potential sources of these low-frequency gravitational waves would be violent, large-scale cosmic events such a the Big Bang or orbiting pairs of massive black holes at the center of merging galaxies.

This research project is being funded by a recent, five-year $14.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The project includes more than 60 scientists and students at 11 institutions. The grant will establish a “Physics Frontier Center” to directed by UWM physics professor Dr. Xavier Siemens (Principal Investigator) and Dr. Maura McLaughlin, an astronomer at West Virginia University. The center will make use of two of the most sensitive radio telescopes on Earth: The Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory’s Green Bank Telescope, in Green Bank, W. Va.

In addition to Dr. Siemens, the UWM participants will include Professor David Kaplan, a postdoctoral researcher, and several graduate students. Both Dr. Siemens and Dr. Kaplan are members of the UWM Leonard E. Parker Center for Gravitation, Cosmology & Astrophysics.