Gravitational Waves: A New Astronomy

Luc Blanchet
Contemporary astronomy is undergoing a revolution, perhaps even more important than that which took place with the advent of radioastronomy in the 1960s, and then the opening of the sky to observations in the other electromagnetic wavelengths. The gravitational wave detectors of the LIGO/Virgo collaboration have observed since 2015 the signals emitted during the collision and merger of binary systems of massive black holes at a large astronomical distance. This major discovery opens the way to the new astronomy of gravitational waves, drastically different from the traditional astronomy based on electromagnetic waves. More recently, in 2017, the detection of gravitational waves emitted by the inspiral and merger of a binary system of neutron stars has been followed by electromagnetic signals observed by the γ and X satellites, and by optical telescopes. A harvest of discoveries has been possible thanks to the multi-messenger astronomy, which combines the information from the gravitational wave with that from electromagnetic waves. Another important aspect of the new gravitational astronomy concerns fundamental physics, with the tests of general relativity and alternative theories of gravitation, as well as the standard model of cosmology.

Gravitational waves without general relativity

strainRobert C. Hilborn
This tutorial leads the reader through the details of calculating the properties of gravitational waves from orbiting binaries, such as two orbiting black holes. Using analogies with electromagnetic radiation, the tutorial presents a calculation that produces the same dependence on the masses of the orbiting objects, the orbital frequency, and the mass separation as does the linear version of General Relativity (GR). However, the calculation yields polarization, angular distributions, and overall power results that differ from those of GR. Nevertheless, the calculation produces waveforms that are very similar to the pre-binary-merger portions of the signals observed by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO-VIRGO) collaboration. The tutorial should be easily understandable by students who have taken a standard upper-level undergraduate course in electromagnetism.


The Black Hole information problem: past, present, and future

Donald Marolf
We give a brief overview of the black hole information problem emphasizing fundamental issues and recent proposals for its resolution. The focus is on broad perspective and providing a guide to current literature rather than presenting full details. We concentrate on resolutions restoring naive unitarity…