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PCOS Science Goals

Test the validity of Einstein's General Theory of Relativity and investigate the nature of spacetime

Einstein's General Theory of Relativity is one of the most cherished fundamental theories of physics. But this description of gravity is widely expected to be incomplete because of its lack of a quantum foundation. The electromagnetic, weak, and strong forces, by contrast, are well defined by quantum mechanics. Most tests of General Relativity have been done in low gravitational fields, e.g., within the Solar System. Among the most stringent tests to date are the binary pulsar observations where the effects of gravitational radiation are important. However, the best tests would be in the most extreme conditions, near the event horizons of black holes, and where black holes are interacting at close range, particularly where velocities are an appreciable fraction of the speed of light. General Relativity makes specific predictions about how the light emitted from material in the inner-most regions around a black hole is distorted and gravitationally redshifted. Detailed observations of that light will provide stringent tests of strong gravity. General relativity also predicts that the inspiral of two massive objects will perturb spacetime and generate gravitational waves. The most extreme conditions and hence the strongest gravitational wave signals exist during the merger of massive black holes. Studying gravity in these strong field limits will provide essential tests of General Relativity and the nature of spacetime.

The European Space Agency LISA observatory


Program News and Announcements

29 July 2020
SMD calls for Expressions of Interest (EOI) from currently funded researchers for augmentations and funded extensions to existing awards to help make up for increased costs directly attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic. »  Details.
29 July 2020
Community Announcement: Intention to Amend ROSES-20 via a Future Appendix for Payloads and Research Investigations on the Surface of the Moon (PRISM). »  Details.
27 July 2020
Snowmass 21 planning underway, with several topical groups on PCOS-related science. »  Details.
23 July 2020
New deadline set for JWST Cycle 1 General Observer proposals. Proposals will be due by 08:00 pm Eastern Time (ET) on Tuesday November 24, 2020. »  Details.
14 July 2020
The NASA LISA Study Team has released a report by their Science Support Task Force analyzing the impact that various levels of access, latency, and user support have on the ability of the US community to maximize the discovery potential of the ESA-led LISA mission. The report was submitted to NASA on 28 Feb 2020. [PDF] »  Details.
8 July 2020
NASA's Science Mission Directorate will hold a virtual community town hall with Associate Administrator for Science Thomas Zurbuchen and other members of the Science leadership team at 3 p.m. EDT Thursday, July 9. »  Details.
7 July 2020
Second workshop to solicit and collect community input to help create a plan and timeline, or "roadmap," for SOFIA's instrument development to be held 27–29 July 2020. »  Details.
2 July 2020
NASA releases final text for Astrophysics Pioneers opportunity. Notices of Intent due 13 August 2020; proposals due 1 October 2020. »  Details.
1 July 2020
NASA releases draft text of Citizen Science Seed Funding Program. Deadline 30 July 2020. »  Details.
30 June 2020
NASA defers XRISM Guest Scientist Program to 2021. »  Details.
30 June 2020
SOFIA Cycle 9 Calls for Proposals Released. Deadline 4 September 2020. »  Details.
26 June 2020
Based on extensive feedback from the community, including the recent COPAG survey and APAC discussion, the Astrophysics Data Analysis Program will be solicited in ROSES-2021. »  Details.

Project News

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  • NASA Official: Phil Newman
  • Web Curator: Pat Tyler
Goddard Space Flight Center