Testing Space-Based Gravitational Wave Detection

Press Release From: American Physical Society
Posted: Friday, March 1, 2019

A new scheme may be used to test the performance of the gravitational-wave detection equipment that will fly on the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA).

The space-based gravitational-wave detector LISA, planned for launch by the European Space Agency in 2034, will listen for gravitational waves that couldn’t be detected with ground-based facilities, such as those produced by mergers of supermassive black holes or by stellar binaries. LISA’s measurements will require phenomenal precision. Now, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Germany have developed an optical setup for testing core pieces of LISA’s technology to ensure that they meet the performance requirements. Compared to previously investigated schemes, the setup is the first with sufficiently low noise to test whether LISA’s interferometric hardware will be able to extract the subtle phase shifts induced by gravitational waves.

Thomas S. Schwarze (Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics, et al., “Picometer-stable hexagonal optical bench to verify LISA phase extraction linearity and precision,” Physical Review Letters [ (expected publication date: Feb 28), preprint:].

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