New York: The European Space Agency’s next-generation Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) gravitational wave detector can potentially detect dozens of binary files in the globular clusters of the Milky Way, scientists say.
Globular clusters are dense environments containing millions of tightly packed stars and are efficient factories for gravitational wave sources.
LISA, which is expected to be in space in 2034, will be able to detect binary sources — pairs of orbiting compact objects.
These binary sources will contain all combinations of black hole, neutron star and white dwarf components.
LISA will also be sensitive to gravitational waves of a lower frequency than those detected by the Earth-bound Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO)
“LISA is sensitive to Milky Way systems and will expand the breadth of the gravitational wave spectrum, allowing us to explore different types of objects that aren’t observable with LIGO,” said lead author Kyle Kremer, a doctoral student at the Northwestern University in Illinois, US.
While 150 globular clusters have been observed so far in the Milky Way, one out of every three clusters will produce a LISA source.
Approximately eight black hole binaries will be detectable by LISA in our neighbouring galaxy of Andromeda and another 80 in nearby Virgo, the study showed.
The research, published by the journal Physical Review Letters, is the first to use realistic globular cluster models to make detailed predictions of LISA sources.
The team used more than a hundred fully evolved globular cluster models with properties similar to those of the observed globular clusters in the Milky Way.
The models were run on Quest, Northwestern’s supercomputer cluster. This powerful resource can evolve the full 12 billion years of a globular cluster’s life in a matter of days.