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Published May 2021 | metadata_only
Journal Article

Gravitational-wave physics and astronomy in the 2020s and 2030s


The 100 years since the publication of Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity saw significant development of the understanding of the theory, the identification of potential astrophysical sources of sufficiently strong gravitational waves and development of key technologies for gravitational-wave detectors. In 2015, the first gravitational-wave signals were detected by the two US Advanced LIGO instruments. In 2017, Advanced LIGO and the European Advanced Virgo detectors pinpointed a binary neutron star coalescence that was also seen across the electromagnetic spectrum. The field of gravitational-wave astronomy is just starting, and this Roadmap of future developments surveys the potential for growth in bandwidth and sensitivity of future gravitational-wave detectors, and discusses the science results anticipated to come from upcoming instruments.

Additional Information

© 2021 Nature Publishing Group. Accepted 08 March 2021; Published 14 April 2021. The authors gratefully acknowledge the following support: M. Bailes and D. E. McClelland are supported by the Australian Research Council under the ARC Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery grant CE170100004. D. E. McClelland also acknowledges the support of the ARC Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities grant LE170100217. M. Branchesi and S. Katsanevas acknowledge the support of the European Union's Horizon 2020 Programme under the AHEAD2020 Project grant agreement 871158. S. Katsanevas is also supported by Université de Paris, France. M. Evans, A. Lazzarini, D. H. Reitze and D. H. Shoemaker are supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) LIGO Laboratory award PHY-1764464. M. Evans also acknowledges support from NSF award PHY-1836814. D. H. Shoemaker acknowledges support from NASA for work on LISA. T. Kajita, H. Shinkai and Y. Saito acknowledge support as members of KAGRA supported by MEXT and JSPS in Japan, NRF and Computing Infrastructure Project of KISTI-GSDC in Korea, and MoST and Academia Sinica in Taiwan. L. Lehner is supported in part by CIFAR, NSERC through a Discovery Grant and by Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. Research at Perimeter Institute is supported by the Government of Canada and by the Province of Ontario through the Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science. G. Losurdo, M. Punturo and F. Ricci acknowledge the Italian Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN), the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and the Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter supported by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, for the construction and operation of the Virgo detector and the creation and support of the EGO consortium. The authors also gratefully acknowledge research support from these agencies, as well as by the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR) for the support to the study and design of the Einstein Telescope. H. Lück is supported by the Max Planck Society, Leibniz Universität Hannover and Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft under Germany's Excellence Strategy EXC2123 QuantumFrontiers programme. M. A. McLaughlin, S. Ransom and X. Siemens are supported as members of NANOGrav and SMR by the NSF Physics Frontiers Center award PHY-1430284. S. Ransom is a CJFAR Fellow at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO). NRAO is a facility of the National Science Foundation operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc. B. S. Sathyaprakash is supported in part by NSF awards PHY-1836779, AST-2006384 and PHY-2012083. B. F. Schutz acknowledges support from the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) of the United Kingdom. A. Sesana is supported by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme ERC-2018-COG under grant 818691 (B Massive). J. Thorpe acknowledges the support of the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). J. F. J. van den Brand is supported by the Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter supported by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research. S. Vitale is supported by the Agenzia Spaziale Italiana and INFN. Author Contributions: The authors contributed equally to all aspects of the article. The authors declare that they have no competing financial interests. Peer review information: Nature Reviews Physics thanks Vitor Cardoso, Nicolas Yunes, Alberto Vecchio and the other two anonymous reviewers for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

Additional details

August 22, 2023
August 22, 2023