LISA: Probing the Universe with Gravitational Waves
SourceBulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 38, (2006), pp. 990, article id.74.01
Article / Letter to editor
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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society
LISA is a joint NASA/ESA space mission for detection and study of low-frequency gravitational waves in the band from 0.1 mHz to 0.1 Hz. The mission consists of three satellites separated by a nominal distance of 5 million kilometers, with precision metrology provided by laser ranging. LISA will detect many new sources of gravitational waves including: the inspiral and merger of supermassive black holes resulting from galaxy mergers anywhere in the observable universe, emission from thousands of individual ultra-compact binaries in our galaxy, and numerous cases of inspiral of small black holes, neutrons stars, and white dwarfs into the supermassive black holes that reside in the nuclei of most galaxies. These sources not only provide unique astrophysical information about the evolution of galaxies and stars, but the systems can also be used as ``laboratories'' for making precision measurements of physical phenomena that will lead to new insights into fundamental physics and cosmology. In addition to radiation from well-known astrophysical sources, some of the most exciting science may come from LISA searches for gravitational waves from the very early universe, such as waves from fundamental phase transitions or from the dynamics of cosmic superstrings. We survey the science goals of LISA and their impact on physics and astrophysics.
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