Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Physics and Applied Physics

First Advisor

Dr. Robert H. Gowdy

Second Advisor

Dr. Marco Aldi

Third Advisor

Dr. Dennis Demchenko


The eld of gravitational wave astronomy is currently at an all time high. The

rst half of the most recent observing run (April 1, 2019 - September 30, 2019) yielded

a total of 39 gravitational wave detections, including 13 from sources which had not

been identied by other astronomical observation methods before. This is three times

as many detections than were measured in the rst two observing runs combined.

In this paper, the design sensitivity decisions leading to this unprecedented rate of

detection are explored. In particular, we detail the nature of the LIGO and VIRGO

gravitational wave interferometers. One recently detected event of particular interest,

GW190814, was shown to possess a number of extraordinary properties relative to

previous gravitational wave detections. It exhibits the greatest mass asymmetry of any

system observed to date, leading to evidence of waveform contributions from higher

order multipoles. The mass of the smaller object has generated curiosity in the eld

over whether the system is a binary black hole or neutron star-black hole merger. The

nature of this component and the resulting properties of the system will be explored.


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