Cosmic Symphony needs you

Will you be able to hear tiny ripples in space-time? If you can spare ten minutes, please take part in the Cosmic Symphony study, writes Dr Chris Messenger, Research Fellow in Gravitational Astrophysics.

The Institute for Gravitational Research at Glasgow University is heavily involved in the global search for a phenomenon predicted by Einstein nearly exactly 100 years ago: gravitational waves.

These waves are tiny ripples in space-time that are generated by some of the most extreme and violent astrophysical events in the universe.

We would like to see if the general public can help us to detect these signals by listening to our data at: Cosmic Symphony.

In collaboration with many other institutions we have spent decades helping to design and build the most sensitive gravitational wave detectors in the world. 

We have also developed the most sensitive algorithms for finding these very weak signals in the detector noise.  However, there are certain types of signals and certain types of detector noise that potentially make humans better detectors than our sophisticated algorithms.

Our pilot project tests how far into the universe people can hear the characteristic “chirping” sound of two neutron stars rapidly orbiting each other and merging into a black hole somewhere in a distant galaxy. 

We have simulated many of these signals and hidden them in real gravitational wave data from the 2 LIGO detectors located in North America. 

If you can spare ten minutes to listen to these audio samples and tell us if you were able to hear our hidden signals then you will be significantly contributing to our effort. 

This project is being conducted by Andrew Davies (MSc student) and is supervised by Dr Chris Messenger and Dr Morag Casey from the School of Physics & Astronomy.

Your help with this pilot study will be much appreciated.

A video simulation of the final moments of binary neutron star system as it emits gravitational wave radiation.  To hear what this might sound like go to cosmic symphony

Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

First published: 10 August 2015

<< August