​​​Scientists and student researchers at Cal State Fullerton’s Gravitational Wave Physics and Astronomy Center (GWPAC) have helped uncover a new window into the universe.

With the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) Scientific Collaboration—a group of more than 1,000 scientists around the world—Cal State Fullerton professors have detected gravitational waves for the first time, confirming Albert Einstein’s prediction in his General Theory of Relativity. The sounds of the universe, gravitational waves can reveal how the universe has changed, how stars and galaxies have formed and evolved, how astrophysical objects like black holes behave and much more, providing a new way to explore the universe.

GWPAC brings together faculty, staff and students interested in gravitational-wave science from a variety of backgrounds, and the center is a hub for faculty-student research activities. Faculty mentors train the next generation of leaders in gravitational-wave science; to date, nearly 40 students have had the opportunity to participate in this groundbreaking research, with some conducting gravitational-wave research in countries such as Italy and Korea.

Students can contribute to research during their undergraduate career by developing simulations of violent astronomical events, analyzing data from computer simulations, and creating visualizations from simulated data—observing and studying things in the universe that have never been
seen before.