skip to main content

Title: New horizons for fundamental physics with LISA
Abstract The Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) has the potential to reveal wonders about the fundamental theory of nature at play in the extreme gravity regime, where the gravitational interaction is both strong and dynamical. In this white paper, the Fundamental Physics Working Group of the LISA Consortium summarizes the current topics in fundamental physics where LISA observations of gravitational waves can be expected to provide key input. We provide the briefest of reviews to then delineate avenues for future research directions and to discuss connections between this working group, other working groups and the consortium work package teams. These connections must be developed for LISA to live up to its science potential in these areas.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
2110416 2004879 2006538 2145421 2006066 1912619 2006384 2012083 2011784 1915071
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; more » ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; « less
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Living Reviews in Relativity
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. null (Ed.)
    Abstract Among the potential milliHz gravitational wave (GW) sources for the upcoming space-based interferometer LISA are extreme- or intermediate-mass ratio inspirals (EMRI/IMRIs). These events involve the coalescence of supermassive black holes in the mass range 105M⊙ ≲ M ≲ 107M⊙ with companion BHs of much lower masses. A subset of E/IMRIs are expected to occur in the accretion discs of active galactic nuclei (AGN), where torques exerted by the disc can interfere with the inspiral and cause a phase shift in the GW waveform. Here we use a suite of two-dimensional hydrodynamical simulations with the moving-mesh code DISCO to present a systematic study of disc torques. We measure torques on an inspiraling BH and compute the corresponding waveform deviations as a function of the binary mass ratio q ≡ M2/M1, the disc viscosity (α), and gas temperature (or equivalently Mach number; $\mathcal {M}$). We find that the absolute value of the gas torques is within an order of magnitude of previously determined planetary migration torques, but their precise value and sign depends non-trivially on the combination of these parameters. The gas imprint is detectable by LISA for binaries embedded in AGN discs with surface densities above $\Sigma _0\ge 10^{4-6} \rm \, g cm^{-2}$, depending on q, α and $\mathcal {M}$. Deviations are most pronounced in discs with higher viscosities, and for E/IMRIs detected at frequencies where LISA is most sensitive. Torques in colder discs exhibit a noticeable dependence on the GW-driven inspiral rate as well as strong fluctuations at late stages of the inspiral. Our results further suggest that LISA may be able to place constraints on AGN disc parameters and the physics of disc-satellite interaction. 
    more » « less
  2. Abstract Since 2015 the gravitational-wave observations of LIGO and Virgo have transformed our understanding of compact-object binaries. In the years to come, ground-based gravitational-wave observatories such as LIGO, Virgo, and their successors will increase in sensitivity, discovering thousands of stellar-mass binaries. In the 2030s, the space-based LISA will provide gravitational-wave observations of massive black holes binaries. Between the $\sim 10$ ∼ 10 –10 3 Hz band of ground-based observatories and the $\sim 10^{-4}$ ∼ 1 0 − 4 –10 − 1 Hz band of LISA lies the uncharted decihertz gravitational-wave band. We propose a Decihertz Observatory to study this frequency range, and to complement observations made by other detectors. Decihertz observatories are well suited to observation of intermediate-mass ( $\sim 10^{2}$ ∼ 1 0 2 –10 4 M ⊙ ) black holes; they will be able to detect stellar-mass binaries days to years before they merge, providing early warning of nearby binary neutron star mergers and measurements of the eccentricity of binary black holes, and they will enable new tests of general relativity and the Standard Model of particle physics. Here we summarise how a Decihertz Observatory could provide unique insights into how black holes form and evolve across cosmic time, improve prospects for both multimessenger astronomy and multiband gravitational-wave astronomy, and enable new probes of gravity, particle physics and cosmology. 
    more » « less

    Since the first detection of gravitational waves in 2015, gravitational-wave astronomy has emerged as a rapidly advancing field that holds great potential for studying the cosmos, from probing the properties of black holes to testing the limits of our current understanding of gravity. One important aspect of gravitational-wave astronomy is the phenomenon of gravitational lensing, where massive intervening objects can bend and magnify gravitational waves, providing a unique way to probe the distribution of matter in the Universe, as well as finding applications to fundamental physics, astrophysics, and cosmology. However, current models for gravitational-wave millilensing—a specific form of lensing where small-scale astrophysical objects can split a gravitational wave signal into multiple copies—are often limited to simple isolated lenses, which is not realistic for complex lensing scenarios. In this paper, we present a novel phenomenological approach to incorporate millilensing in data analysis in a model-independent fashion. Our approach enables the recovery of arbitrary lens configurations without the need for extensive computational lens modelling, making it a more accurate and computationally efficient tool for studying the distribution of matter in the Universe using gravitational-wave signals. When gravitational-wave lensing observations become possible, our method could provide a powerful tool for studying complex lens configurations in the future.

    more » « less

    The launch of space-based gravitational-wave (GW) detectors (e.g. Laser Interferometry Space Antenna; LISA) and current and upcoming Pulsar Timing Arrays will extend the GW window to low frequencies, opening new investigations into dynamical processes involving massive black hole binaries (MBHBs) and their mergers across cosmic time. MBHBs are expected to be among the primary sources for the upcoming low-frequency (10−4–10−1 Hz) window probed by LISA. It is important to investigate the expected supermassive BH merger rates and associated signals, to determine how potential LISA events are affected by physics included in current models. To study this, we post-process the large population of MBHBs in the Illustris simulation to account for dynamical friction time delays associated with BH infall/inspiral. We show that merger delays associated with binary evolution have the potential to decrease the expected merger rates, with $M_{\rm {BH}}\ \gt\ 10^6\ \mathrm{M}_\odot$ MBHBs (the lowest mass in Illustris) decreasing from ∼3 to ∼0.1 yr−1, and shifting the merger peak from z ∼2 to ∼1.25. During this time, we estimate that accretion grows the total merging mass by as much as 7x the original mass. Importantly, however, dynamical friction-associated delays (which shift the mergers toward lower redshift and higher masses) lead to a stronger signal/strain for the emitted GWs in the LISA band, increasing mean frequency from 10−3.1 to 10−3.4–10−4.0 Hz, and mean strain from 10−17.2 to 10−16.3–10−15.3. Finally, we show that after including a merger delay and associated MBH growth, mergers still tend to lie on the typical MBH–M* relation, but with an increased likelihood of an undermassive BH.

    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    We report the discovery of ZTF J0127+5258, a compact mass-transferring binary with an orbital period of 13.7 minutes. The system contains a white dwarf accretor, which likely originated as a post–common envelope carbon–oxygen (CO) white dwarf, and a warm donor (Teff,donor= 16,400 ± 1000 K). The donor probably formed during a common envelope phase between the CO white dwarf and an evolving giant that left behind a helium star or white dwarf in a close orbit with the CO white dwarf. We measure gravitational wave–driven orbital inspiral with ∼51σsignificance, which yields a joint constraint on the component masses and mass transfer rate. While the accretion disk in the system is dominated by ionized helium emission, the donor exhibits a mixture of hydrogen and helium absorption lines. Phase-resolved spectroscopy yields a donor radial velocity semiamplitude of 771 ± 27 km s−1, and high-speed photometry reveals that the system is eclipsing. We detect a Chandra X-ray counterpart withLX∼ 3 × 1031erg s−1. Depending on the mass transfer rate, the system will likely either evolve into a stably mass-transferring helium cataclysmic variable, merge to become an R CrB star, or explode as a Type Ia supernova in the next million years. We predict that the Laser Space Interferometer Antenna (LISA) will detect the source with a signal-to-noise ratio of 24 ± 6 after 4 yr of observations. The system is the first LISA-loud mass-transferring binary with an intrinsically luminous donor, a class of sources that provide the opportunity to leverage the synergy between optical and infrared time domain surveys, X-ray facilities, and gravitational-wave observatories to probe general relativity, accretion physics, and binary evolution.

    more » « less