Marica ended her month-long visit to CSUF and the department's gravitational-wave center GWPAC with an overview of her work with masters student Chris Griffo and collaboration with GWPAC director Josh Smith.
Astronomy traditionally has been based on detecting electromagnetic waves from the motion of electric charge in a burning star. The emerging science of gravitational-wave astronomy is based instead on detecting intrinsically different waveforms due to the motion of the mass of the star. Gravitational waves have yet to be detected but are a strong conclusion of general relativity in which the star's moving mass generates exceedingly subtle undulations in the framework of space–time, like delicate ripples on the surface of a pond.
A worldwide scientific collaboration has evolved whose mission is gravitational-wave observation based on laser interferomety LIGO. The resulting LSC network connects LIGO researchers in the US with scientists from around the world, including the VIRGO instrument in Italy, Marica's home observatory.
The long wavelength nature of gravitational waves will prohibit conventional imaging of the source stars, so gravitional-wave observation will be closely monitored with conventional astronomy to help characterize the sources, an area of research Marica specializes in and has been working on with Chris during her visit here.
Marica is on her way to Cal Tech for another two weeks of collaboration with LIGO researchers there and continued work with Chris before heading home to Urbino.
Thank you Marica for your visit, we look foward to your return!