Gravitational Physics

Gravitational Physics is a research area within which you can focus your studies as part of our suite of Physics and Astronomy research programmes (MPhil, PhD).

The Gravitational Physics Group is one of the largest research groups in the School of Physics and Astronomy. We focus on the detection and study of gravitational waves from astrophysical systems such as black-hole and neutron-star binaries, supernovae, and gamma-ray bursts. Group members are also leaders in the field of numerical relativity, simulating collisions of black holes using large computer clusters.

The Group co-founded the British-German GEO 600 gravitational-wave detection project and is a leading member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration. We are active members of collaborations studying the scientific benefits of the proposed space-based LISA system and the future Einstein Telescope (ET). As a part of this research we develop novel algorithms and software that have become standard search tools. Cardiff also acts as a data centre for GEO 600 and LIGO, with the data analysed in-house using large computer clusters.

Other theoretical research focuses on quantum processes in the early Universe, cosmic microwave and gravitational wave backgrounds, the formation, evolution and nature of largescale structure in the Universe, and alternative formulations of general relativity. We have developed an on-line game called Black Hole Hunter to illustrate how we look for gravitational wave signals from merging black hole binaries. The challenge is to listen to a set of audio tracks and identify the one containing the signal from a black hole merger.


Administrative contact(s)

Postgraduate Admissions Team

School of Physics and Astronomy

Academic contact(s)

Professor Mark Hannam

Active research projects include:

  • Numerical modelling of black hole binaries
  • Searches for gravitational waves from black hole and neutron star mergers
  • Multi-messenger astronomy with gravitational waves, gamma ray bursts, supernovae
  • Astrophysical implications of gravitational wave observations
  • Observational tests of general relativity
  • Cosmography with gravitational wave observations of compact binary mergers
  • Developing the science case for next generation of ground-based, underground and space-based gravitational wave detectors
  • Understanding quasi-normal mode oscillations of black holes

Extracting weak Gravitional Wave events

Use of machine learning techniques to identify and classify weak gravitational wave events in data from the LIGO and Virgo detectors.

Numerical simulations of black-hole binaries

Numerical simulations of black-hole binaries.

Gravitational Waves and Gamma Ray Bursts

During your PhD, you will take a leading role in the search for gravitational waves associated with GRBs.

Machine learning to extract gravitatonal wave transients

Identifying astrophysical gravitational wave transients from events such as supernovae.

Improving the sensitivity of gravitational-wave detectors

The PhD student will gain skills in high-precision optical experiments and noise analyses of complex experimental systems, all the while contributing to the budding field of gravitational-wave astronomy.

Signal models for transient gravitational-wave astrophysics

this research project will assess the uncertainty of our best signal predictions.

Modelling and studying gravitational waves from black-hole-binary mergers

Modelling and studying gravitational waves from black-hole-binary mergers.

Measuring the properties of black-holes and neutron-stars with gravitational-waves

This project will improve existing techniques to advance our understanding of the next gravitational-wave observations.


There are currently no funding opportunities available.

Tuition fees

UK and EU students

Get the latest information on postgraduate fees.

Students from outside the EU

Get the latest information on postgraduate fees.

Programme information

For programme structure, entry requirements and how to apply, visit the Physics and Astronomy programme.

View programme
Meet us at our Information Fair on 22 February 2018.

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