IVth School of Astroparticle Physics
May 27th - June 1st, 2013

OHP, Saint Michel l'Observatoire

Gravitational Waves


Thanks to the advent of a second generation of instruments, we are at the dawn of the first direct detection of gravitational waves (GW). GW are expected to be emmitted in violent astrophysical events, possibly in connection with other types of emission, observable in the electromagnetic or neutrino spectra, such as, e.g., GRBs. This motivates correlating future GW observations with those of conventional astronomy. Developing such an multi-messenger astrophysics is a timely effort that can be achieved by bringing together the communities involved in both the observational and theoretical aspects.

This school aims at bringing together experts from a wide range of disciplines, including specialists in GW sources and their modelling, high-energy physicists, phenomenologists or observers. The goal is to foster the exchange of expertise between the audience and the speakers representing their own scientific communities, and to contribute to training a new generation of young researchers in these fields.

Scientific Context

Gravitational waves (GW) correspond to changes of the metric properties of the space that propagate through the universe at the speed of light. Nowadays, their direct detection has become an important challenge in physics, as it will allow to thoroughly test the Einstein's General Relativity and open a new window on the Universe with implications in astrophysics and cosmology.

  • Given the importance of the scientific and technological developments, the challenge of their experimental detection is tackled by a worldwide network of detectors. It comes in three complementary approaches in terms of spectral coverage: ground based interferometers (Virgo, LIGO, etc..) from 10 Hz - 10 kHz ; in space, with eLISA/NGO , which covers from a few mHz to a fraction of hertz; and the pulsar timing arrays, covering the very low frequencies (~ nHz). A first generation of detectors, operating a few years ago, validated the technological and instrumental choices, demonstrating high precision metrology. From 2016, it will give way to a second generation with a sensitivity ten times better, probing a volume of universe a thousand times larger and leading (probably) to the first direct detection of gravitational waves. 

Among the sources of gravitational waves, violent astrophysical events (mergers, gravitational collapse) involving compact objects such as neutron stars and black holes, may be accompanied by electromagnetic radiation and particles (neutrinos, in particular) at high energy. The observation of an electromagnetic counterpart (optical, X-ray, gamma, radio...) and neutrinos (low or high energy), could then be a crucial ingredient to identify the astrophysical origin of the GW signals.

  • This prospect justifies a "multi-messengers approach", which consists in correlating the GW detectors with other observational methods. Such a strategy requires cooperation with optical telescopes designed for quick follow-ups on a "robotic" opportunistic mode, and with the projects of wide field transient surveys in the radio frequency band (LOFAR), or optical/near-infrared (LSST). At higher energy, a good synergy also exists with the search for gamma-ray bursts, via Fermi or Swift, and the Sino-French mission SVOM. In the neutrino spectrum, work has been initiated with ANTARES and and can be extended naturally to the future European KM3 neutrino detector.

CNRS is heavily involved in ground based detectors with Virgo. The first generation has demonstrated the feasibility of these experiments through scientific runs at the expected sensitivity and, for lack of detections, has established interesting astrophysical limits on sources. It also gave the opportunity to operate the various detectors as a network and to take the first steps toward a multi-messenger astronomy involving gravitational waves. The second generation, due to come online in a few years with a 10-fold increase in sensitivity (Advanced Virgo, Advanced LIGO...), offers rich prospects and the promise of true gravitational astronomy. In the longer term, the third generation European project, the Einstein Telescope (ET), will allow us to probe the Universe in depth. ET is one of the "Magnificent Seven", the projects recommended by the ASPERA network for the future developments of Astroparticle Physics in Europe.

For reasons of efficiency, gravitational wave science is a global effort. Extracting information on GW sources requires several interferometers operating simultaneously on different sites. The scientific communities in the United States (LIGO), Germany - United Kingdom (GEO600) and Italy - France and the Netherlands (Virgo) share technologies, R&D and theoretical advances, as well as data analysis methods. The European project ET will help improve this cooperation around the world.

Training goals

The goal of this school is to train researchers in this field, to guide them in their scientific career change where necessary, and to bring them up-to-date through specialized courses and seminars covering the latest developments. The ultimate goal is not only to meet the requirement of a multidisciplinary approach by seeking informative experts, but also to provide training about the latest techniques connected with the discipline. Offering accommodation on site will promote connections between the communities involved.

The school aims at bringing together the various scientific communities connected to this topic, from theory to observation. The content addresses current developments on gravitational waves and multi-messenger strategies, in view of their detection and analysis. The program will cover both observational and theoretical aspects of these issues.


This school is primarily targeted at scientists, post-doctoral and PhD students in the fields of astroparticle physics, astronomy, theoretical physics and high energy physics, willing to acquire complementary skills and/or to change their research topic. Scientists from other fields are welcome if the topic appeals to them.


A PhD level either in Astronomy, Astrophysics, Theoretical Physics or Particle Physics

Main topics

Gravitational Waves - Multi Messengers: Gamma Ray Bursts, X-rays - High Energy Neutrino - Compact Astrophysical Objects - Process and sources of High Energy Emission

Scientific Committee

Michel Boer, Astrophysique Relativiste, Théories, Expériences, Métrologie, Instrumentation, Signaux (ARTEMIS)
Josè Busto, Centre de Physique des Particules de Marseille (CPPM)
Eric Chassande-Mottin, Astroparticule et Cosmologie (APC)
Paschal Coyle, Centre de Physique des Particules de Marseille (CPPM)
Bernard Degrange, Laboratoire Leprince-Ringuet (LLR)
Yves Gallant, Laboratoire Univers et Particules de Montpellier (LUPM)
René Goosmann, Observatoire astronomique de Strasbourg (UNISTRA)
Stavros Katsanevas, Astroparticule et Cosmologie (APC)
Jürgen Knödlseder, Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie (IRAP)
Julien Lavalle, Laboratoire Univers et Particules de Montpellier (LUPM)
Benoit Lott, Centre d'études nucléaires de Bordeaux Gradignan (CENBG)
Frédérique Marion, Laboratoire d'Annecy le Vieux de Physique des Particules (LAPP)
Jean Orloff, Laboratoire de physique corpusculaire (LPC CLERMONT)
Etienne Parizot, Astroparticule et Cosmologie (APC)
Guy Pelletier, Institut de Planétologie et Astrophysique de Grenoble (IPAG)
Pierre Salati, Laboratoire d'Annecy-le-vieux de Physique Théorique (LAPTH)
Roland Triay, Centre de Physique Théorique (CPT)

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