On August 15 the National Science Foundation created at Penn State the
Center for Gravitational Wave Physics as part of its new Physics
Frontier Centers program.
As described by the Foundation, the goal of the Physics Frontier Center
(PFC) program is to support timely, aggressive, and forward-looking
research with the potential to lead to fundamental advances in
physics. This new Center is one of only three funded by the Foundation
in the first round of Physics Frontier Center funding. The mission of
the Center for Gravitational Wave Physics is to help crystallize and
develop the emerging discipline of gravitational wave phenomenology:
the astrophysics and fundamental physics that gravitational wave
observations -- in all wavebands -- enable.
Research at the Center will focus on interdisciplinary problems
at the interface of general relativity, gravitational waves, astrophysics
and detector design:
The Center for Gravitational Wave Physics is a community
resource, meant to support and encourage research in gravitational
wave phenomenology. An important component of the Center is a major,
international visitors program. Center funding is available to host
visitors or groups of visitors who wish to become involved in
gravitational wave phenomenology research or focus attention on
specific problems. Visits, supported by the Center, from weeks to
months are possible, and limited funding is available to support
- Astrophysics and gravitational waves:
problems of source calculations, astrophysical modeling of sources and
their populations, and interpretation of observations,
- General relativity and gravitational waves: testing relativity
and developing numerical and analytic tools needed for detailed
studies of sources (e.g., numerical relativity and radiation
- Detector design studies: how target science -- the sources
one wants to detect or the science one wants to do -- constructively
influences the design of advanced gravitational wave detectors.
In addition, the Center will host frequent focus sessions,
workshops and conferences on critical gravitational wave phenomenology
problems. Focus sessions, which last for just a few days, typically
address a single, narrowly defined problem on which it is thought
substantial progress can be made through concentrated effort by experts.
Workshops, like the recent Gravitational Wave Phenomenology Workshop
(described elsewhere in this volume), last from a few days to a week are
broader meetings, aimed at discussion and accessible to non-experts and
new-comers to the field. Conferences, such as the forthcoming Fourth
International LISA Symposium, are larger and longer affairs, whose purpose
is to consolidate work in preparation for future efforts.
The recent Gravitational Wave Phenomenology Workshop, held on 6-8
November 2001, was the first workshop sponsored by the new
Center. Forthcoming focus sessions include
Forthcoming workshops hosted by the Center include the Fourth Capra
Meeting on Radiation Reaction in General Relativity, which will follow
immediately on the heels of the radiation reaction focus session, and
the second Gravitational Wave Phenomenology Workshop, tentatively
planned for Spring 2003. Forthcoming conferences hosted by the Center
include the Fourth International LISA Symposium, which will be held
19-24 July 2002.
- Astrophysical Initial Data Problem: (29-30 March 2002) Posing
Astrophysically relevant initial data for numerical relativity
investigations of binary black hole or neutron star
coalescence. Organized by Greg Cook and Pablo Laguna.
- WORK-BENCH: (Spring 2002) Present use and future development of
the bench program for advanced interferometric detector
design. Organized by Sam Finn, Gabriela González, David Shoemaker,
Robin Stebbins and Ken Strain.
- Radiation Reaction: (Spring 2002) Implementing practical schemes
for computing the gravitational waveforms, especially from extreme
mass ratio binary systems. Organized by Warren Anderson, Patrick
Brady, Eanna Flanagan and Sam Finn.
- Numerical Relativity: (24-29 June 2002) Jointly sponsored with
the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications (IMA), this
workshop will bring together the numerical relativity and the
mathematicians working in numerical analysis, scientific computation,
partial differential equations and geometry for an intense but
informal discussion aimed at bringing new ideas and techniques into
the numerical relativity, and propelling applied mathematicians with
relevant skills and interest into numerical relativity. Organized by
IMA director Doug Arnold, Abhay Ashtekar and Pablo Laguna.
- Stellar Populations: (Fall 2002) What -- and how -- can we
learn about stellar populations from gravitational wave observations?
Organized by Vicky Kalogera, Martin Rees and Sam Finn.
- Massive black hole coalescence: (Fall 2002) Massive black holes
are presumed to coalesce in the cores of interacting galaxies, and
these coalescence events are potentially important gravitational wave
sources for LISA. Present theoretical estimates of the coalescence
rates give timescales much longer than suggested by indirect
observational evidence. What's missing from our understanding?
Organized by Steinn Sigurdsson and Ramesh Narayan.
- Numerical Relativity and Gravitational Wave Data Analysis: (Fall
2002) Numerical relativity has much to offer to the analysis and
interpretation of gravitational wave observations. This focus session
will bring these two communities together to foster a greater
understanding of how numerical relativity can aid in gravitational
wave data analysis and interpretation. Organized by Bernd Brügmann,
Sam Finn and Pablo Laguna.
The core, resident faculty of the Center for Gravitational Wave Physics are
Abhay Ashtekar, Sam Finn (Director), Peter Meszaros, Pablo Laguna
(Associate Director), Steinn Sigurdsson and Alex Wolszczan. In addition,
the Center for Gravitational Wave Physics non-resident faculty members,
who are expected to visit frequently, are Warren Anderson, Mario Diaz and
Joseph Romano (University of Texas, Brownsville); Patrick Brady (University
of Wisconsin, Milwaukee); Matt Choptuik (University of British Columbia);
Eanna Flanagan (Cornell University); Gabriela Gonzalez, Jorge Pullin and
Joel Tohline (Louisiana State University); Richard Price (University of
Utah); Robin Stebbins (Goddard Spaceflight Center); and Ken Strain
(University of Glasgow).
All Center activities are open to the broad scientific community,
whose participation will be supported through the Center's visitor
program. For more information on the opportunities provided by the
Center please contact CGWP@Gravity.Phys.PSU.Edu or see the
Center's web site (presently under construction) at