LIGO Document P1500068-v1

[Thesis] Gravitational-wave Science with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory

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Gravitational-waves, as predicted by Einsteinís theory of general relativity, are oscil- lations of spacetime caused by the motion of masses. Although not yet directly detected, there is strong evidence for the existence of gravitational waves. Detectable gravitational waves will come from dramatic astrophysical events, such as supernova explosions and collisions of black holes. The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) is a network of detectors designed to make the first direct detection of gravitational waves. The upgraded version of LIGO, Advanced LIGO (aLIGO), will offer a dramatic improvement in sensitivity that will virtually guarantee detections. Gravitational-wave detections will not only illuminate mysterious astrophysical systems but will also provide a test of Einsteinís theory of general relativity.

This dissertation discusses the development of software for use in aLIGO and tests on aLIGO data for verifying general relativity. I have constructed and tested critical components of aLIGOís low-latency data analysis network. Low-latency refers to unno- ticeable delays in the performance of software. I have developed and tested low-latency calibration software that takes the raw data from the LIGO detectors and converts it into gravitational-wave strain. I have also conducted a search on initial LIGO data for gravitational waves from sub-solar mass black hole binary systems. This search is a proof-of-principle search for an aLIGO binary neutron star search, which is the most promis- ing search for the first direct gravitational-wave detection. Finally, I have investigated the ability of aLIGO to detect violations of general relativity through a gravitational- wave detection of the orbit and collision of two astrophysical objects. The dissertation work discussed here is aimed to improve low-latency data production and analysis in gravitational-wave physics and will further the scientific findings from a gravitational-wave detection.

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