Illustration of 2 merging black holes and the gravitational waves that ripple outward

Gravitational Waves ResearcH

Explore our work in gravitational waves, one of our areas of expertise within Cosmology and Astrophysics 


Gravitational waves are a new way of studying the Universe. They were detected for the first time in 2015 when a gravitational-wave signal from two colliding black holes was detected by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO).

Since then, 10 signals have been detected from merging black holes and 1 signal originating from the coalescence of 2 neutron stars. This signal was observed across the electromagnetic spectrum, and was the first observation of an astronomical source with both electromagnetic and gravitational waves.

We develop increasingly sensitive and efficient techniques to detect gravitational waves from cataclysmic events and continuous sources, estimating the equation of state of neutron stars and characterising Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors.

We also develop techniques for future instruments, which are more challenging to analyse, and we develop innovative methods to diagnose and solve problems in very complex instruments. 

We research how to extract astrophysical and cosmological information from the observed gravitational-wave signals to learn more about our Universe. Much of our research takes place within the University's Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation – and uses analytical and computational methods, developing powerful signal processing and statistical techniques to extend the reach of our science.


Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA)

We're involved with the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) consortium to enhance knowledge about the beginning, evolution and structure of our universe. LISA is a space-borne gravitational wave observatory used to discover parts of the universe invisible by other means, such as black holes.

LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC)

Our research into gravitational waves is part of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC). The LSC is an international group comprising more than 1,200 scientists, in over 100 institutes from 18 countries. As part of the LSC, we're searching for gravitational waves from colliding black holes, neutron stars and other sources, and developing innovative methods for maximising the performance of the LIGO detectors.

Einstein Telescope

We're part of an international collaboration, working on the science case for a future ground-based gravitational-wave detector called the Einstein Telescope. This telescope could probe deeper into the Universe than LIGO, answering questions about the evolution of black holes over cosmological times and looking for hints of physics beyond our current understanding of gravity.

Discover our areas of expertise

Gravitational waves is one of the 4 areas of expertise within the Cosmology and Astrophysics research area – explore the others here.

Research groups

We're researching galaxies and stars, large-scale structures, gravitational waves and dark energy.
We're exploring research in quantum information technologies, quantum optics and quantum foundations and applied advanced materials.
We're developing techniques on detecting gravitational waves from new and continuous sources, taking the information from these waves to learn more about our Universe.

Interested in a PhD in Cosmology & Astrophysics?

Browse our postgraduate research degrees – including PhDs and MPhils – at our Cosmology & Astrophysics postgraduate research degrees page.


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