Gravity & the
Extreme Universe

Gravity and the Extreme Universe

About this program

What is the nature of extreme gravity, and how can it help us understand the origin and evolution of the universe?

For most of human history, our observations of the Universe depended entirely on visible light. Later we were able to use other forms of electromagnetic radiation like infrared and radio waves. Now technological advances have given us the ability to detect gravitational waves, opening the door to fundamentally new ways of observing and understanding the Universe.

Gravitational waves and other converging research efforts together promise to deepen our fundamental understanding of the origin and evolution of the cosmos. Many of these efforts, including the first direct detection of gravitational waves using laser interferometry, and the possible detection of early universe gravitational waves in the cosmic background radiation, had strong involvement from members of CIFAR’s program in Cosmology & Gravity (GEU’s predecessor program) that the GEU program will build upon.

 

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Program at a glance

Founded in
1986
Members
36
Renewal Dates
2008, 2014
Supporters
  • R. Howard Webster Foundation
Disciplines
Astrophysics; astronomy; astroparticle, computational, high energy and particle physics; observational cosmology

Program details

The program addresses questions about the nature of extreme gravity, the origin and evolution of the universe, and the structure of compact objects such as black holes and neutron stars, and will answer other profound questions about fundamental physics and astrophysics.

Gravitational waves were predicted by Albert Einstein in 1916 in his general theory of relativity. Einstein showed that massive accelerating objects would create “ripples” in spacetime that would radiate away from the source at the speed of light. Almost 100 years later, gravitational waves, produced by two colliding black holes 1.4 billion light years away, were finally detected by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO).

In addition to laser interferometry we could soon detect traces of gravitational waves in the cosmic background radiation. And pulsar timing arrays – which measure the timing of pulses from many different millisecond pulsars – are likely to detect gravitational waves as well. Finally, there are a number of other key initiatives and experiments, including Canada’s SNOLab and the CIFAR-member-led CHIME experiment, which will address related questions like the nature of dark matter and dark energy, as well as tackle new phenomena like mysterious fast radio bursts.

The GEU program unites world-leading researchers from a number of relevant fields who are taking advantage of this wealth of new information. Members of the program were chosen not only for individual excellence, but also for their expertise from a variety of fields, and across theory, experiment and observation.

Contact the program’s senior director, Pamela Kanellis

Program fellows & advisors

Program Director

GEU_VickyKaspi
Victoria M. Kaspi
Program Director and R. Howard Webster Foundation Fellow

Victoria Kaspi’s research focuses on neutron stars: massive, dense celestial objects that emit bursts of radiation as they rotate and that are formed when a massive star explodes.

 

Fellows

GEU_ArthurMcDonald

Arthur B. McDonald

  • Associate Fellow
  • Gravity & the Extreme Universe
  • Queen's University
  • Canada
Bio Outline

Barth Netterfield

  • Senior Fellow
  • Gravity & the Extreme Universe
  • University of Toronto
  • Canada
GEU_DavidSpergel

David Spergel

  • Associate Fellow
  • Gravity & the Extreme Universe
  • Princeton University
  • United States
GEU_SterlPhinney

E. Sterl Phinney

  • Associate Fellow
  • Gravity & the Extreme Universe
  • California Institute of Technology
  • United States
Bio Outline

Frans Pretorius

  • Senior Fellow
  • Gravity & the Extreme Universe
  • Princeton University
  • United States
GEU_GaryHinshaw

Gary Hinshaw

  • Senior Fellow
  • Gravity & the Extreme Universe
  • University of British Columbia
  • Canada
GEU_GilbertHolder

Gilbert Holder

  • Senior Fellow
  • Gravity & the Extreme Universe
  • University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
  • United States
GEU_HaraldPfeiffer

Harald P. Pfeiffer

  • Associate Fellow
  • Gravity & the Extreme Universe
  • University of Toronto
  • Canada
GEU_IngridStairs

Ingrid Stairs

  • Senior Fellow
  • Gravity & the Extreme Universe
  • University of British Columbia
  • Canada
J Richard Bond

J. Richard Bond

  • Senior Fellow
  • Gravity & the Extreme Universe
  • University of Toronto
  • Canada
Bio Outline

John A. Peacock

  • Associate Fellow
  • Gravity & the Extreme Universe
  • University of Edinburgh
  • United Kingdom
GEU_JosephSilk

Joseph Silk

  • Associate Fellow
  • Gravity & the Extreme Universe
  • United Kingdom
GEU_JulioNavarro

Julio F. Navarro

  • Senior Fellow
  • Gravity & the Extreme Universe
  • University of Victoria
  • Canada
Bio Outline

Lars Bildsten

  • Associate Fellow
  • Gravity & the Extreme Universe
  • United States
GEU_LuisLehner

Luis Lehner

  • Senior Fellow
  • Gravity & the Extreme Universe
  • Perimeter Institute
GEU_MarkChen

Mark C. Chen

  • Senior Fellow
  • Gravity & the Extreme Universe
  • Queen's University
  • Canada
Bio Outline

Mark Halpern

  • Senior Fellow
  • Gravity & the Extreme Universe
  • University of British Columbia
  • Canada
GEU_MatiasZaldarriaga

Matias Zaldarriaga

  • Senior Fellow
  • Gravity & the Extreme Universe
  • United States
GEU_MatthewDobbs

Matt Dobbs

  • Senior Fellow
  • Gravity & the Extreme Universe
  • McGill University
  • Canada
Bio Outline

Matthew W. Choptuik

  • Associate Fellow
  • Gravity & the Extreme Universe
  • University of British Columbia
  • Canada
GEU_NeilTurok

Neil Turok

  • Associate Fellow
  • Gravity & the Extreme Universe
  • Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics
  • Canada
Bio Outline

Richard S. Ellis

  • Associate Fellow
  • Gravity & the Extreme Universe
  • European Southern Observatory
  • University College London
  • Germany
GEU_RobertMyers

Robert C. Meyers

  • Associate Fellow
  • Gravity & the Extreme Universe
  • Canada
GEU_ScottRansom

Scott Ransom

  • Senior Fellow
  • Gravity & the Extreme Universe
  • National Radio Astronomy Observatory
  • United States
GEU_Ue-LiPen

Ue-Li Pen

  • Senior Fellow
  • Gravity & the Extreme Universe
  • University of Toronto
  • Canada
GEU_VickyKalogera

Vicky Kalogera

  • Senior Fellow
  • Gravity & the Extreme Universe
  • Northwestern University
Bio Outline

Werner Israel

  • Distinguished Fellow
  • Gravity & the Extreme Universe
  • University of Victoria
  • Canada
Bio Outline

William G. Unruh

  • Associate Fellow
  • Gravity & the Extreme Universe
  • University of British Columbia
  • Canada

Advisors

Bio Outline

Simon White

  • Advisor
  • Gravity & the Extreme Universe
  • Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics
  • Germany
GEU_ScottTremaine

Scott D. Tremaine

  • Advisory Committee Chair
  • Gravity & the Extreme Universe
  • Institute for Advanced Study
  • United States
Bio Outline

Eva Silverstein

  • Advisor
  • Gravity & the Extreme Universe
  • United States
Bio Outline

Lyman Page

  • Advisor
  • Gravity & the Extreme Universe
  • Princeton University
  • United States
GEU_RogerBlandford

Roger Blandford

  • Advisor
  • Gravity & the Extreme Universe
  • United States
Bio Outline

Gabriela Gonzalez

  • Advisor
  • Gravity & the Extreme Universe
  • Louisiana State University
  • United States

CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars

GEU_DarylHaggard

Daryl Haggard

  • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar
  • Gravity & the Extreme Universe
  • McGill University
  • Canada
Bio Outline

Parameswaran Ajith

  • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar
  • Gravity & the Extreme Universe
  • International Centre for Theoretical Physics
  • India