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Astrophysical interpretation of gravitational waves with space-based observatories.

Project Description

Gravitational-wave astronomy was pioneered in September 2015 with the first direct observation of gravitational waves by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO). A long time ago, far, far away two black holes spiralled into each other and merged, deforming space-time in the process. Those deformations propagated as waves, carrying information about the properties of the collision of the two black holes.

The Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) is a space-based observatory expected to be launched into space in 2034. It will be able to probe gravitational-wave sources, their properties and test theories of gravity with unprecedented precision, with great potential to upend our understanding of the universe. However, many challenges remain before we obtain the capability to analyse LISA’s output.

In particular, Bayesian parameter estimation and model selection techniques have been essential to infer the astrophysical properties of the sources of detected gravitational waves. Those methods are a key part of this new field of gravitational-wave astrophysics, and this project will improve existing techniques to enable they use for LISA thereby unlocking its potential. This involves for instance distinguishing an arbitrary number of overlapping sources of very different strengths and morphologies, analysing quickly and efficiently years of data, and developing methods to marginalise out sources of systematic uncertainties.

This work will lead to enabling new constraints of alternative theories of gravity and measurements of the invisible distribution of matter in the universe. This involves developing an using accurate, precise, and efficient methods for observational gravitational-wave astronomy on future observations.

This project will be funded by the STFC.
Applicants should apply to the Doctor of Philosophy in Physics and Astronomy with a start date of 1st October 2020.

In the research proposal section of your application, please specify the project title and supervisors of this project. If you are applying for more than one project, please list the individual titles of the projects in the text box provided. In the funding section, please select ’I will be applying for a scholarship/grant’ and specify that you are applying for advertised funding from the STFC.

Applicants will need to submit the following documents with their application:
- post high school certificates and transcripts to date
- academic CV
- personal statement
- two academic references. Your references can either be uploaded with your application, or emailed by the referee to or

Funding Notes

Tuition fee support: Full UK/EU tuition fees
Maintenance stipend: Doctoral stipend matching UK Research Council National Minimum

You should have obtained, or be about to obtain a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree in Physics , or a related subject, Alternatively, applicants with equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK will also be considered. Applicants with a Lower Second Class degree will be considered if they also have a Master’s degree.
Applicants whose first language is not English are normally expected to meet the minimum University requirements (e.g. 6.5 IELTS)

How good is research at Cardiff University in Physics?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 19.50

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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