PhD project: Amplitudes for Black Hole Physics

Project description

Recent detections of gravitational waves from orbiting black holes and neutron stars are just the beginning of a new era of precision gravitational wave physics. Future plans for ground-based or space-based detectors (such as KAGRA, the Einstein Telescope, the Cosmic Explorer and LISA) hold the promise of large amounts of precision data. But in order to make use of this data, our theoretical understanding of gravity must keep up.

The theory of gravitational waves is based on general relativity (GR). This theory is both fascinating and beautiful, but it is also notoriously difficult to work with. For gravitational wave physics, we want approximate methods which allow us to compute gravitational waveforms at high precision - but the usual perturbative approach quickly becomes intractable. Numerical methods are very expensive, and are therefore only relevant for the last few orbits from the many thousands which will be detected.

Help may be at hand from a seemingly different field of physics. Scattering amplitudes are the basic theoretical quantities for understanding physics at particle colliders, such as the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. Because of intense interest in high energy colliders, the study of scattering amplitudes has bloomed in the last decade. Among other insights, it has become clear that amplitudes in gravity are simpler than they seem. New methods exist for computing them which completely bypass the standard perturbative approach to general relativity.

In this PhD project, we will explore applications of these new ideas from the world of scattering amplitudes to the physics of black holes, beginning with black hole scattering.

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