Physics Professor Co-Publishes Article Detailing Evidence Hinting at Gravitational Waves
Paul Baker, assistant professor of physics, joined an international team of astronomers in publishing results of a comprehensive search for a background of low-frequency gravitational waves. Gravitational waves, ripples in the fabric of spacetime itself, permeate all spacetime and could originate from mergers of the most massive black holes in the universe or from events occurring soon after the formation of the universe in the Big Bang.
The work of the International Pulsar Timing Array (IPTA) collaboration is described in an article accepted for publication in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. The IPTA is a consortium of several astrophysics collaborations from around the world: the European Pulsar Timing Array, the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves (NANOGrav), which Baker is a member of, the Parkes Pulsar Timing Array in Australia, and the Indian Pulsar Timing Array Project, its newest member.
“These results make a very promising step in our continued efforts to detect low-frequency gravitational waves,” said Baker, who is co-chair of the IPTA’s gravitational wave analysis working group.
Baker led an extensive comparison between the IPTA data set and other recent data sets from the large regional scientific collaborations as part of this work.
“The combined IPTA data set, which uses older data, is just as sensitive as the newest data from its individual members. This demonstrates what can be gained scientifically by working together,” said Baker, who joined the IPTA in 2016.