Research

 
 

2. Time Domain Optical Astronomy Group

There are some events like the collision of neutron stars or other compact objects like white dwarves that in the process of a violent merger would emit electromagnetic waves in addition to the gravitational waves predicted by Einstein’s theory.

Fairly recently a group of scientists published an article claiming that such event could have occurred in our galaxy, the Milky Way some more than thousand years ago. The fact that they claim could be the evidence for is the abundance of some radioactive isotope of carbon in tree rings around 774-775 AC. Such abundance could have been produced by what is called a short gamma ray burst produced during the collision of two neutron stars. A version of the article published recently in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society can be found here: http://arxiv.org/abs/1211.2584

A popular version of the article is discussed here: arstechnica.com.

Several theoretical simulations of events like this suggests that in addition to very directionally beamed jets of strong and short duration gamma ray bursts, a more isotropic afterglow in the optical and longer than optical wavelengths (i.e. infrared, radio) region of the electromagnetic spectrum should occur. There is an extremely narrow time window (particularly during the optical emission) to observe the event.

But such observation could be of extreme value: it could help to understand with much better precision the location of the source (interferometric gravitational wave detectors like LIGO or VIRGO, even when combined in a network have very poor localization sensitivity). It could also help to understand better the astrophysical nature of the event if follow-up spectroscopic observations of the afterglow are carried.

Following this interest I formed a group to work in this area. You can check what we do and the members here: Astronomy

 

My research at UTRGV

Photo by Lidia Diaz, Perito Moreno Glacier, Santa Cruz Argentina, 2012

On this page I describe my research interests. They are varied but all related to gravitational wave detection.

What is gravitational wave detection? What are gravitational waves? Please read the following English transcription of one of my weekly radio columns that run on the Argentine Public radio during 2009:

Einstein’s unfinished Symphony

The article describes the very fundamental aspects  of  gravitational wave production and detection.

My research in gravitational wave detection covers two different areas to which I dedicate my efforts:


  1. 1.LIGO group

This area cover several different projects, that range from aspects of materials testing to characterization of some aspects of the instruments utilized to detect gravitational waves.

A more detailed description of this projects can be consulted in this other page:LIGO Research

With many students (who have now already graduated) I built a few years ago what is the only astronomical observatory in South Texas.