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- 1. Gravitational Waves: A 100 Year Success Story James G. O’Brien Department of Sciences Wentworth Institute of Technology Boston, MA 02115, USA 1 obrienj10@wit.edu Abstract Over the course of the few years, the world of Physics has been alive with news of groundbreaking discoveries. Many of these recent advances have been crucial to the conﬁrmation of results that are at the cornerstone of modern physics. These triumphs are a culmination of the eﬀorts of theorists and experimentalists alike. The spoils of recent physics however has in many cases been a testament to the patience and persistence of science. For example, in 2013, after being postulated over ﬁfty years ago by Peter Higgs and company [1], the Higgs Boson was detected at the Large Hardron Collider (LHC) [2]. In 2008, Gravity Probe B returned to Earth with results to further verify the geodetic curvature eﬀect of Einstein, as well as provide a ﬁrst measurement of the mind blowing gravitational frame dragging eﬀect [3]. Both of these ideas were postulated nearly 100 years ago, and the ﬁrst idea for using a space-craft to measure the curvature and frame dragging eﬀect originated over 60 years ago by the great Leonard Schiﬀ. Today, physicists ﬁnd ourselves once again celebrating victory, with the ﬁrst detection of Gravitational Waves at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, LIGO. This was yet another discovery, a hundred years in the making. In this article, we will review brieﬂy the history of Gravitational Waves, the methods used at LIGO for detection and take a glimpse to the future of gravitational wave physics. 1
- 2. I. GRAVITATIONAL WAVES In order to appreciate the magnitude of the recent discovery, we should highlight the basics of gravitational waves. When Einstein revolutionized our understanding of gravity in 1915 with General Relativity (GR), he also forced us to expand our comprehension of the geometry of space and time itself. GR was the ﬁrst metric theory of gravity, a complete description of gravitational phenomena resulting from the presence of mass, occupying a region of space- time, which in turn causes the surrounding geometry to become non-Euclidian. This is easily visualized by a small marble resting on a rubber sheet causing it to curve. In the years that followed, this curvature eﬀect was proven due to the deﬂection of star light experiment. Since light follows the geodesics of the system in which it propagates, the straight lines around a large object such as the sun would be curved according to GR. Hence, light should be deﬂected from its original path. When this was conﬁrmed, the Einstein description was celebrated as the correct and complete interpretation. This was a huge deviation from the Newtonian description of gravity since his famous equation, Fg = GM1M2 r2 ,should not couple to massless light. Moreover, one of the motivating factors of Einstein’s special relativity was the preservation of causality. Since it was a known shortcoming of Newton’s theory that gravity required an instantaneous force, this is immediately at odds with causality. As it turns out, Einstein had the answer to this conundrum as well, namely that a geometric theory of gravity admits wave like solutions which travel at the speed of light. These theorized waves, would become known as the elusive gravitational waves, and for Einstein, the similarities between electromagnetism and gravity have come full circle. Although the idea of gravity communicating via a wave is a simple analogous eﬀect to electrodynamics communicating via waves, the physical implications are quite diﬀerent. In order to quantify the physicality of such objects, let us turn to some basic GR. As a metric theory of gravity, GR relates the gravitational ﬁeld to a set of space-time dependent (xα ) co-eﬃcient functions gµν(xα ), called the metric tensor. This set of 16 quantities (as the indices are dummies that can range from 0 to 3) fully describe the point by point geometry of a given system in a four dimensional space-time. Since the metric tensor coeﬃcients are functions, they also hold the information for if and how the geometry of space time changes in a system. Thus, according to Einstein, knowing the metric tensor of the system completely describes the geometry and thus describes what Newton previously called gravity. So let us 2
- 3. assume that we have a gravitational source in space time. This source will produce a metric to describe the gravity. As we do in the Maxwell equations, let us then look at the far ﬁeld eﬀect of the gravity, namely the metric tensor far from the source. In this regime, the metric tensor can take the form gµν = ηµν + hµν, where ηµν is the background geometry and hµν is the weak perturbation to the geometry due to the source. The Einstein equations so solve for the metric tensor are given by Rµν − 1 2 gµνRα α = 8πG c2 Tµν, where Rµν is the Ricci Tensor (a quantity which contains linear combinations of ﬁrst and second order derivatives of the metric tensor), Rα α is the Ricci scalar of the system (the trace of the Ricci Tensor) and Tµν is the Energy Momentum tensor of the system. Upon using the expanded version of the metric tensor in the far ﬁeld, the left hand side of Einstein’s equations simplify to: Rµν ≈ 1 2 ∂λ∂λ hµν − ∂2 ∂xλ∂xµ hλ ν − ∂2 ∂xλ∂xν hλ µ + ∂2 ∂xµ∂xν hλ λ (1) We can make this simpler as well by eliminating the Ricci scalar from the system by writing Vµν = Tµν − 1 2 ηµνTλ λ . In GR, we maintain energy and momentum conservation in the convenient form that ∂µTµ ν = 0. Similiarly, if we are working in the weak ﬁeld, then we get a similar relation for the derivatives of h (to ﬁrst order), viz: ∂µhµ ν = 1 2 ∂νhµ ν . Using these in the original formula for the Einstein equations in the far ﬁeld, we obtain: ∂λ∂λ hµν = − 16πG c2 Vµν (2) which if we then work in the source free zone, Vµν = 0, the Einstein equations are ∂λ∂λ hµν = 0. Upon remembering the Einstein summation convention, we realize that we staring at the wave equation for hµν, ∂λ∂λ hµν = 1 c2 ∂2 ∂t2 − 2 hµν = 0 (3) For further elaboration on these derivations, see for example Weinberg [4]. This overlap with electromagnetic theory is not only remarkable, but also gives us a deﬁnitive value of the speed of the gravitational radiation. Further, it allows us to postulate on the divergence of the correlation with electro-magnetics, in that the metric tensor itself hµν is the quantity which behaves like a wave. Coupling this with our earlier statement that the metric tensor describes the actual space-time structure of the system, then we are stating that under the right circumstances, wave-like disturbances in the space-time fabric are allowed in GR, and can propagate far from the source. These are the true manifestations of gravitational waves, and it was one of these disturbances in space-time that was recently discovered at LIGO. It 3
- 4. should be noted however that long before LIGO was operational, there was indirect evidence of gravitational waves. in 1993, the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Russell Hulse for the indirect detection of gravitational waves by observing a pulsar binary system [5]. The observations showed a decaying orbit of the pulsar which can be measured due to doppler shift. Using the equations described above, one can calculate the energy carried away by the gravitational radiation, and thus predict the orbital decay. This number was measured within .2 percent of the prediction from GR. Now more than 30 years later, the direct detection of such radiation has been captured. Although the above derivation is correct, we have made the oversimpliﬁcation that we set the source to zero. In order to make predictions about gravitational waves and relating them to their source in the far ﬁeld, we would need to go back and set the weak Einstein equations to a non zero energy momentum tensor and carry out the calculations. In this framework, the metric tensor coeﬃcients hµν are related to the amplitudes of the gravitational waves ¯h, and follow wavelike solutions to the wave equation. These types of waves however, are only produced in the quadrapole moment of the source and hence are extremely weak waves (in contrast with electromagnetic waves which possess a dipole moment). We can get a rough estimate for the amplitudes ¯h), by assuming we are looking at a binary system, which orbits in a circular fashion (which is in-spiraling) at a distance R from center to center, with period T. The quadrapole moment is given by P ≈ 2MR2 , where M is the total mass of the system. Since we can relate this back to the Schwarzschild radius rs, then the approximation for the perturbation amplitude becomes ¯h, = rs r v2 c2 . (4) This can be further simpliﬁed by using the virial theorem for the system, which allows the ﬁnal simpliﬁcation that ¯h ≈ r2 s Rr . The beauty of this simpliﬁcation is that we can get a good estimate for the amplitudes from simple algebra. For example, if we assume that the objects in the binary motion are of the order of solar masses, and the event is occurring in a spatial distance from earth (r) on the order of kpc, then ¯h ≈ 5 ∗ 10−18 m. We will see below that this number is of signiﬁcant importance to both LIGO and the signal detected a few weeks ago. 4
- 5. FIG. 1: A Cartoon picture of the LIGO apparatus. In the top drawing, the two beams are not interacting with a gravitational wave. In the Lower, the presence of the gravitational wave (yellow) causes a small shift in space-time and thus an interference pattern after recombination. II. LIGO The Large Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) was ﬁrst hypothesized in the 1960’s with the advent of interferometry. The idea of using laser interferometry to attempt to measure gravitational waves was studied by GR master KipThorne and then revisited in the 1980’s when the ﬁrst 40 meter prototype was built at Caltech. Fast forward to the modern day, and LIGO is one of the most ambitious and long going collaborations between powerhouse universities (MIT and Caltech to name a few), and remains the single largest collaboration ever funded by NSF. Since its inception in the early 80’s, LIGO has underwent many updates and renovations which culminated in the announcement on Februaruy 11, 2016 that the ﬁrst detection of a gravitational wave was found in the LIGO array. 5
- 6. As being a member of the physics community, one cannot escape the irony of the detection method used. The laser interferometer array used in the LIGO facilities is an experiment very similar to the famous Michaelson-Morely (MM) experiment, the failed experiment that originally paved the way for the success of special relativity over 100 years ago. The main diﬀerence now, is that we understand that there is no ether, but instead, we are searching for wiggles in the space time continuum. Figure 1 shows a simple illustration of this. The beams of coherent light are ﬁne tuned and sent into a beam splitter across two diﬀerent paths. The light bounces oﬀ mirrors down the 4000m arms over 250 times and recombine for no interference pattern (the original MM result). This is achieved by keeping the beams completely out of phase so that no gravity waves implies a null result. However, if a grav- itational wave were to traverse through the continuous beam, the small deviation in space time would cause an extremely small deviation in one of the paths, resulting in an inter- ference pattern after recombination. It should be noted that the signals sought in LIGO are extremely small (spatial distortions of about 10−18 m), and the systematic noise in the system is overwhelming [6]. Many false positives of the LIGO apparatus were due to factors such as minuscule seismic activity and simple nearby automobile traﬃc. Since GR predicts gravitational waves, one can then directly correlate the amplitude of such waves directly back to information about the source. As an experimental apparatus, we know the sensitivity of LIGO, and therefore can ﬁgure out what types of exotic objects can put out gravitational waves strong enough to be picked up by the interferometer. This is how the LIGO group are sure that the gravitational wave detected, was the in-spiral of two black holes. The signal, dubbed GW150914 was short but sweet. The GR prediction calls for this type of merger to radiate much of the mass away and have a wavelength that changes as the merge evolves. Over the .2 seconds, the wave began at 35 Hz, maximizing at 150 Hz. This same signal was then seen 10m/s later at the seconds LIGO site, for a combined signal to noise ratio of 24, with 90 percent certainty. [7]. Figure 2 shows the actual signal measured from the two detectors. 6
- 7. FIG. 2: The measured signal over measured at LIGO Hanford site (left) and LIGO Linvingston sight (right). The frequencies measured and change in frequencies can then be used to ﬁnd the masses involved via: M = (m1m2) 3 5 (m1 + m2) 1 5 = c3 G 5 96 π−8 3 ν−11 3 dν dt 3 5 . (5) With this equation, we can estimate the sum of the masses as being on the order of 70 solar masses. Since we relate the maximum frequency to be half the orbital frequency of the masses in -spiraling to be 75 Hz, one can compute the Schwarzchild bound 2GM c2 ≈ 250km . Further analysis concludes the speciﬁcs of the two masses were about 25 and 39 solar masses plus or minus 4. With the inferred masses and observed frequencies, this immediately 7
- 8. implies the two objects had to be black holes and not compact Neutron stars. Perhaps as icing on the cake, analysis can also be performed in the fall oﬀ of the signal. As can be seen in Figure 2, the fall oﬀ was measured, and is consistent with a damped waveform similar to those found in a Kerr solution for a single rotating black hole, signifying that a merger and completion was observed [8]. III. FUTURE OF LIGO With this recent observation, the future of LIGO is promising. The signal was found in the arrays only a few short months after the recent upgrades to Advanced LIGO [6]. This timely event shows the importance of persistence and commitment to pure scientiﬁc research. Although LIGO may have had some funding issues in the past, it is more than likely that with the current excitement, that LIGO has not seen its ﬁrst and last signal. LIGO India has now only a few weeks after the conﬁrmed signal been conﬁrmed to be new region which will build a LIGO apparatus to give more of a baseline for future signals [9]. Other sites including Australia have also been discussed but not conﬁrmed [10]. Perhaps one of the outcomes of this signal, would be a re-aﬃrmed commitment to LISA, the Laser Interferometer Space Array. The bounds on LISA as compared to LIGO can be seen in Figure 3, and would basically remove much of the noise and false positives found here on earth. It would be the hope that this may prove to be a similar advancement to gravitational wave observations as the Hubble Space telescope was to luminous observations. 8
- 9. FIG. 3: The parameter space as measured by LIGO, advanced LIGO (aLIGO), LISA and other gravitational wave detectors. [1] Higgs P W 1964 Phys. Rev. Lett. 13(16) 508–509 URL http://link.aps.org/doi/10.1103/ PhysRevLett.13.508 [2] Gianotti F, Mangano M L, Virdee T, Abdullin S, Azuelos G, Ball A, Barberis D, Belyaev A, Bloch P, Bosman M, Casagrande L, Cavalli D, Chumney P, Cittolin S, Dasu S, de Roeck A, Ellis N, Farthouat P, Fournier D, Hansen J B, Hinchliﬀe I, Hohlfeld M, Huhtinen M, Jakobs K, Joram C, Mazzucato F, Mikenberg G, Miagkov A, Moretti M, Moretti S, Niinikoski T, Nikitenko A, Nisati A, Paige F, Palestini S, Papadopoulos C G, Piccinini F, Pittau R, Polesello G, Richter-Was E, Sharp P, Slabospitsky S R, Smith W H, Stapnes S, Tonelli G, Tsesmelis E, Usubov Z, Vacavant L, van der Bij J, Watson A and Wielers M 2005 European Physical Journal C 39 293–333 (Preprint hep-ph/0204087) [3] Everitt C W F, DeBra D B, Parkinson B W, Turneaure J P, Conklin J W, Heifetz M I, Keiser G M, Silbergleit A S, Holmes T, Kolodziejczak J, Al-Meshari M, Mester J C, Muhlfelder B, 9
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