Research Fellows Directory
Professor Xilong Fan
University of Glasgow
One hundred years after Einstein’s prediction of gravitational waves (GWs) derived by the General Theory of Relativity, the detection of GWs in the near future will herald a new era of astronomy, the mutili-message astronomy, together with other traditional astronomy observations at radio, microwave, infrared, optical, ultraviolet, X-ray and gamma-ray wavelengths and by astrophysical neutrinos.
The worldwide scientific community is engaged in an exciting research for these elusive waves. GWs are essentially ripples in the curvature of spacetime. These waves exert a tidal force on objects; squeezing in one direction and stretching in an orthogonal direction.
Sources of GWs include the violent process such as the merging black holes and neutron stars, the collapse of massive stars resulting in supernovae and rapidly rotating neutron stars. GWs from the merger of two neutron stars or a neutron star with a black hole will carry information about the internal structure of the neutron star, and might reveal the mystery of central engine of certain types of gamma-ray bursts, the brightest astronomical events in the electromagnetic spectrum.
New data analysis methods are being developed to extract new and exciting information from joint observation of astrophysical phenomena through a combination of GWs, electromagnetic and astrophysical neutrino observations. In Glasgow, we have developed a new Bayesian approach to multi-messenger astronomy. The developed method combines electromagnetic and GWs observations to provide a better estimate of common parameters such as the sky location of the progenitor. This general approach could be used by any different data sets to improve their common parameter estimation. The immediate implications of this general framework includes reducing the sky region over which astronomy telescopes must scan, and improving the estimate on the orientation of binary neutron star systems.
Interests and expertise (Subject groups)