In linear approximation to general relativity, gravitational waves can be thought of as perturbation of the background metric that propagate at the speed of light. A time-varying quadrupole of matter distribution causes the emission of gravitational waves. Application of Einstein's quadrupole formula to radio binary pulsars has confirmed the existence of gravitational waves and vindicated general relativity to a phenomenal degree of accuracy. Gravitational radiation is also thought to drive binary supermassive black holes to coalescence - the final chapter in the dynamics of galaxy collisions. Binaries of compact stars (i.e., neutron stars and/or black holes) are expected to be the most luminous sources of gravitational radiation. The goal of this review is to provide a heuristic picture of what gravitational waves are, outline the worldwide effort to detect astronomical sources, describe the basic tools necessary to estimate their amplitudes and discuss potential sources of gravitational waves and their detectability with detectors that are currently being built and planned for the future.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy(all)