Focus - Gravitational waves: the astronomy revolution?

Let's discover the portraits of Eleonora Capocasa and Valerie Domcke and the video of their performance during the 2016 L'Oréal-Unesco For Women In Science fellowships in France.

Eleonora Capocasa, "Gravitational waves: a new view of the Universe"

Gravitational waves. Remember this term, it just revolutionised astronomy in 2015. Gravitational waves are ripples in the curvature of spacetime. Imagine that, under the effect of an extremely violent cosmic process, a shock wave is created. This shock wave propagates at the speed of light without being limited by matter: it can cross the universe to reach us and deliver information about the astrophysical phenomena it has generated. In September 2015, for the first time, a wave was measured by detecting its movement through space after it passed. A movement of a billionth of a billionth of a metre. Never had such a small distance been measured, delivering its secret as it went: the wave was created by the fusion of two black holes, a phenomenon still never yet observed. This achievement was facilitated thanks to interferometric detectors. And this is where the work of Eléonora Capocasa, who is working at the Astroparticule and Cosmology Laboratory on the Université Paris Diderot campus, comes into play.

“The objective of my thesis is to improve the sensitivity of existing instruments in order to better detect gravitational waves and therefore access the information they contain. This requires the development of cutting-edge technologies in the area of optical interferometry, with the aim of reducing the main sources of noise that can mask the very weak signal of gravitational origins”, explains the researcher. With Eléonora Capocasa, the gravitational astronomical revolution is underway. 

Valerie Domcke, PhD, "Understanding the first fractions of a second of the evolution of the universe"

Which physical model can describe both the fundamental structure of matter that surrounds us and the first fractions of a second of the evolution of the universe? To contribute to this understanding, Valerie Domcke intends to study the possible signatures of the different theoretical models of the early universe, using a unique tool: gravitational waves. “I have always been fascinated by the link between elementary particle physics and cosmology. My goal is to propose a coherent and testable model based on elementary particle physics and that describes the early universe”, explains the German researcher, who is carrying out her second post-doctoral research project at the Astroparticle and Cosmology laboratory and the Paris Physical Cosmology Centre, at Université Paris Diderot.

Valerie Domcke believes that the study of gravitational waves can provide the key to a better understanding of how to bring together different theoretical concepts of cosmology and particle physics to find a coherent image of the evolution of the early universe. “In my research area, I share the dream with many of my colleagues, to find a “formula of the world”, describing all physical processes in the past, present and future, with a simple mathematical expression”, concludes Valerie Domcke.

Let's discover their performance:

For Women in Science

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