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