Researchers work on LISA mission to understand more about our universe

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The LISA mission to send the first gravitational wave detector into space has passed a major milestone – and two mathematical physicists from the University of Southampton have played a key role in getting it there.

Schematic illustration of LISA.

Schematic illustration of LISA. Image credit:, NASA via public domain

The LISA (Laser Interferometer Space Antenna) mission has been Approved by the European Space Agency (ESA) to proceed into the construction phase. This is the seal of approval from ESA, meaning LISA, which has taken so far 30 years to build, should go into orbit in the mid-2030s.

LISA will be sent 60 to 70 million kilometers from Earth in an orbit around the Sun to search for low-frequency gravitational waves that cannot be detected from Earth. It will open the first window into extreme events in our universe, including the cataclysmic merger of supermassive black holes, each with a mass millions of times that of our Sun. It is expected that these discoveries will revolutionize our knowledge about the beginning, evolution and structure of the universe.

Dr Adam Pound And Professor Lior Barakfrom the School of Mathematical Sciences and the STAG (Southampton Theory, Astrophysics and Gravity) Institute, have a leading role in developing robust methods to extract gravitational wave signals from data collected by LISA and understand their properties – to maximize The science return of the mission will be essential.

Professor Barak leads the LISA ground-segment project, which involves the universities of Birmingham, Glasgow and Portsmouth as well as the Universities of Southampton. He is responsible for the development of theoretical waveguides to detect and interpret LISA data. He also coordinates this activity within the international LISA Consortium, where he is a core member of the science group.

Dr Pound, a European Research Council Fellow and Royal Society University Research Fellow, also has a leadership role in the LISA consortium. He said: “This is a very important moment in the lifetime of the mission, and we have been working on this for many years. LISA is now truly a reality.”

Dr. Pound’s work focuses on theoretically modeling black hole collisions. Describing his contribution to the LISA mission, he said: “To detect and interpret gravitational waves, detectors like LISA require high-precision models of the waves and the systems that generate them. Gravitational waves are the strongest Sources are binary systems in which two dense objects, such as black holes, orbit around each other, spiral inward and merge, creating ripples in spacetime. My team works on binary modeling. in which one object is much heavier than the other.”

LISA will discover these binaries, which are believed to be found at the centers of many galaxies.

Dr Pound said: “The gravitational-wave signals from these extreme-mass-ratio impulses contain a wealth of information about how gravity operates in the most extreme regimes. The interpretation of these signals, which my team’s models will facilitate, will probe the geometry of black holes with unprecedented precision and enable investigation of the fundamental laws of physics.

Source: university of southampton

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