Welcome to gwoptics.org! These pages provide information and software related to gravitational wave detection, with a special focus on optics research. This page also hosts the outreach material of the Gravitational Wave Group Birmingham, UK, supporting the efforts by GEO 600 and the LIGO Scientific Collaboration.
06.06.2013 - Announcing Finesse 1.0
After more than 13 years of work and 25 releases we are proud to announce version 1.0 of the interferometer simulation tool Finesse!
Finesse is a fast and relatively easy to use software to simulate laser interferometers. It can be used for detector commissioning, interferometer design, or simply for learning more about laser optics. It is freely available for many platforms and fully open source. We also provide simple examples and an extensive manual.
Of course, we will continue to extend and improve Finesse. This version 1.0 completes the open source release of Finesse after a period of extensive testing and optimising the modeling of higher-order modes for beam shape changes and mirror surface distortions. The future of Finesse lies in the implementation of radiation pressure effects and quantum noise calculations; in fact, we have already started work on this.
08.04.2013 - Recently published...
We have been quite busy recently and have submitted four new papers to the arxiv.org pre-print server. These papers provide a good glimpse into the work we do in our group, from investigating optical effects in detail to the design of future gravitational wave detectors. The pre-print server is open access, so have a look:
D. Lodhia et al.:
`Phase effects due to beam misalignment on diffraction
M. Wang et al.: `A realistic polarizing Sagnac [...] with DC readout for the Einstein Telescope'
L. Carbone et al.: `Generation of high-purity [...] Laguerre-Gauss beams at high laser power'
D. Brown et al.: `Invariance of waveguide grating mirrors to lateral displacement phase shifts'
20.03.2013 - The LIGO Magazine, issue 2
I am pleased to present the second issue of the LIGO Magazine! This issue of the magazine of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC) features articles about black holes, and the astrophysics and data analysis that LIGO can do to find out more about these elusive objects. We also include a mix of conference reports, news items and stories from the detector sites. If you want to know more about gravitational waves and about what is going on in our community download the magazine now!
18.01.2013 - Gravitational Waves in Korea
09.01.2013 - Stargazing Live in Birmingham
Today and on Saturday this week, we are taking part in a BBC Stargazing Live event on the University Birmingham campus. We are showing our exhibition Looking for Black Holes with lasers with a new addition: the Mirror Suspension model with the full Advanced LIGO BOSEMs and control electronics.
It's been a lot of fun so far with a great audience, see the queue in front of the Physics building.
22.10.2012 - Some software updates
Thanks to Reinier Jonker at NIKHEF we can now also provide a Dutch version of Space Time Quest. We have also posted a new Processing sketch Reflection which demonstrated how electromagnetic waves behave at an optical surface.
13.09.2012 - Space Time Quest 1.2 released
A new version of Space Time Quest has been released. If you want to know how we design gravitational wave detectors such as Advanced LIGO or the Einstein Telescope, download the game and try for yourself!
- The Windows version now comes as a native program with a proper installer. So, no Java requirements anymore! This should make the program much more accessible!
- The game is now available in Chinese, thanks to Mengyao Wang who performed the translation!
- We fixed a bug that sometimes caused a magic increase in the budget. The high scores should be more accurate now.
- But, yes, the infamous parrot is still around.
12.09.2012 - The new LIGO Magazine
The LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC) today has published the first issue of a new magazine: The LIGO Magazine has been designed for the scientific collaboration itself as the main audience. However, it is published as a free download (pdf file) and I believe that this magazine is an interesting read also for people outside that community. It contains a lot of articles, stories and fascinating photos, have a look!
05.09.2012 - History and impact of Finesse
It is now 15 years since we had the idea to create the interferometer simulation Finesse. The software has been used for more than 10 years to design and improve optical systems and it is time to have a look at the impact it had. I have started collecting references to scientific reports and papers that reference Finesse and so far I have found 56 such documents. Have a look at that list and read about the History and Impact of Finesse! Please let me know if you know of other documents that should be listed here.
03.06.2012 - Lies and statistics for gwoptics.org
During the last weeks I had a look at the gwoptics.org user statistics. Here is quick summary in case you are interested (or you can have a look at some plots): The data extracted from the webserver logfiles show a steady and fast increase in visitors to gwoptics.org since its launch, with currently an average of 140 unique visitors per day and more than 100,000 page impressions per month.
Google currently counts more than 1500 incoming links to the gwoptics webpage. Within one year from its first release we have achieved almost 10,000 downloads of Space Time Quest and have close to 5000 downloads for Black Hole Pong. The online high-scores table for Space Time Quest shows over 5000 entries.
18.03.2012 - Open source release of Finesse
Our interferometer simulation Finesse has become open source! Not only can you download the source code, but we have also setup a professional Redmine project page for Finesse with a bug tracker, a Wiki, user forums and an easy way to view the code online. Have a look around and get involved! We are happy to help by answering questions in the forums and welcome any kind of contribution to the development of Finesse.
In addition the main Finesse page has been improved, now hosting more examples and links to useful tools. Please let me know if you have an interesting Finesse example to share!
21.02.2012 - Photos from around the GW community
For a while I have been posting the odd photo from around the gravitational wave community on my tumblr blog: http://gwoptics.tumblr.com/. If you would like to share some interesting pictures, please let me know!
18.02.2012 - Upgrade your optical layouts
Do you sometimes need an illustration of an optical layout? Then ComponentLibrary might be something for you!
This free and open vector graphics library of optics components has been used to illustrate a great many notes, papers and PhD thesis. Now, it's your turn to upgrade your optical layouts! ComponentLibray has been developed by Alexander Franzen at the Albert Einstein Institute in Hannover.
17.11.2011 - New paper on our Processing activities
Our first paper on using Processing for science outreach has been submitted and is now available on the pre-print server: http://arxiv.org/abs/1111.3899. The paper describes some of the background for the existence of this webpage, i.e. the idea to develop small computer applications to be used for educational purposes and to teach gravitational waves physics. Our Processing sketches are the main result of this activity with the two computer-games related to gravitational wave science: Black Hole Pong and Space Time Quest as the highlights.
11.11.2011 - Space Time Quest 1.1.0 released
A new version of Space Time Quest has been released today. We fixed some bugs and changed the way the final score is computed: instead of a detection range you now collect events, i.e. detections of supernovae, neutron stars and black holes. You can see the new score system in action in our online hall of fame.
31.10.2011 - Translations of our gravitational wave Ebook
Our GW Ebook, a collection of short texts explaining the basics of gravitational wave detection, is now available in several languages! Do you ever wonder how to say `A Laser is a very special type of light source' in Spanish, German, Italian or Chinese? Well, here is your chance to find out! Also, if you have non-English speaking friends who are interested in science or astronomy, maybe you could introduce them to gravitational waves using these pages.
11.09.2011 - Squeezed light at GEO 600
Today, Nature Physics has published a paper about the implementation of squeezed light at the GEO 600 detector: `A gravitational wave observatory operating beyond the quantum shot-noise limit', http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/NPHYS2083. For the first time the squeezed light technology has been used to increase the sensitivity of an astronomical observatory. The same technology is scheduled to be tested at the Advanced LIGO detectors.