Experimental & Theoretical General Relativity
The general relativity group includes collaborations with other faculty members of the department and with professors at other institutions. It has several postdoctoral fellows and graduate students. LSU has both theoretical and experimental activitiesin gravitational physics.
The experimental activities areare focused on the search for the first direct detection of gravitational waves, and in the development of the new field of gravitational wave astronomy. LSU has been for decades a very significant contributor to the search for gravitational waves, operating until recently ALLEGRO, the only "resonant bar detector" in the US. Currently, the LSU experimental gravity group is dedicated to the search of gravitational waves with the LIGO interferometric detectors (www.ligo.caltech.edu).
The LIGO Laboratory operates two Observatories, one in Livingston, LA and another in Hanford, WA. The detectors are 4 km Fabry-Perot Michelson interferometers that are sensitive to minuscule distortions of space time, and will be able to detect gravitational waves from a wide variety of sources located far outside our galaxy. The LIGO Livingston Observatory (LLO) and the LIGO Science Education Center are only 45 minutes away from LSU campus, and the LSU group faculty, students and postdocs are all frequent visitors and participate of the many scientific and outreach activities happening at LLO.
LSU is a very active member institution of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC, www.ligo.org), with Prof Giaime being the Head of the LIGO Livingston Observatory and Prof Gonzalez having been elected the LSC spokesperson in 2011. LSU scientists are currently working on analyzing the data taken by earlier LIGO detectors in 2005-2010, in the installation and commissioning the Advanced LIGO detectors, and on the development of cryogenic and quantum technologies that will be implemented in future upgrades.
The theoretical activities include the simulation of binary "compact objects" such as black holes, neutron stars and white dwarfs. The group has developed several large codes including the ability to run on parallel supercomputers and to include adaptive mesh refinement and multi-patch capabilities for the simulation of the Einstein equations of general relativity. Some of the codes allow coupling to fluids and magneto-hydrodynamics. The group also includes research in more foundational questions of gravity including mathematical issues and quantum issues including loop quantum gravity. Research is also carried out on spin and rotation effects, as well as the role of entropy, in general relativity. More information can be found on the Theoretical General Relativity Group webpage.