Probing cosmic defect evolution with gravitational waves


  • Call:

    IDPASC Portugal - PHD Programme 2019

  • Academic Year:

    2019 / 2020

  • Domain:


  • Supervisor:

    Lara Sousa

  • Co-Supervisor:

    Pedro Avelino

  • Institution:

    Universidade do Porto

  • Host Institution:

    Centro de Astrofísica da Universidade do Porto/Instituto de Astrofísica e Ciências do Espaço

  • Abstract:

    The detection of gravitational waves by the LIGO experiment precipitated us into new era of astronomy: the era of Gravitational Wave Astronomy. Gravitational waves will allow for the detection of new astronomical sources, enabling us to hear what is currently unseen. In this doctoral project, we will develop a new generation of numerical algorithms to describe cosmic defect networks, with the objective of gaining new understanding of their evolution and of constructing more realistic semi-analytical descriptions of their dynamics. These tools will enable us to study the gravitational wave background generated by cosmic defect networks with unprecedented precision. The production of these defects in symmetry breaking phase transitions in the early universe is predicted in several models of particle physics. This work will then give us insight, not only about the physics of the early universe, but also about fundamental physics. Stringent constraints on defect-forming scenarios will also be derived using upcoming gravitational wave data (e.g. from LIGO-VIRGO,IPTA,LEAP), in order to discriminate between different models of particle physics at extremely high energies. Detailed forecasts for upcoming probes, such as LISA and SKA, will be central to this project too.