the Science

~ four main areas we study ~

GW1509014: LIGO Detects Gravitational Waves

On 14 September 2015 at 4:50:45 AM Eastern standard time, LIGO detected its first gravitational waves.  The waves descended on Earth from the southern hemisphere, passed through the Earth, and emerged at the Earth's surface first at the LIGO interferometer in Livingston, Louisiana, and then, 7 milliseconds later, at the LIGO interferometer in Hanford, Washington (shown below).


Tidal effects in neutron star-compact object binaries

To detect and characterize gravitational waves from neutron star binaries, LIGO needs good models of all possible signals.  Numerical relativity can't practically be used for every case, but it is needed to test and calibrate the simpler models that LIGO can use.  Inspiral waveforms from binaries with neutron stars differ from binary black hole waveforms by the presence of tidal forces.  In a recent paper (, Tanja Hinderer and collaborators use SXS black hole-neutron star simulations to validate a new model of these tidal forces.  They find that tidal effects can be stronger than previously expected when they come close to resonance with a neutron star's preferred ways of ringing (its normal modes of oscillation).

Explore the Science of SXS


Come, you lost Atoms, to your Centre draw,
And be the Eternal Mirror that you saw:
Rays that have wander'd into Darkness wide,
Return and back into your Sun subside.

From Farid al-Din Attar's twelfth-century masterpiece
The Conference of the Birds

About SXS

The SXS project is a collaborative research effort involving multiple institutions. Our goal is the simulation of black holes and other extreme spacetimes to gain a better understanding of Relativity, and the physics of exotic objects in the distant cosmos.

The SXS project is supported by Canada Research Chairs, CFI, CIfAR, Compute Canada, Max Planck Society, NASA, NSERC, the NSF, Ontario MEDI, the Sherman Fairchild Foundation, and XSEDE.

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