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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

16 December 2020
The 237th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society, Virtually Anywhere, 11–15 January 2021, will include Physics of the Cosmos events. The PCOS AAS2021 Meeting page lists currently scheduled sessions, presentations, chats, and displays »  Details.
4 December 2020
Payloads and Research Investigations on the Surface of the Moon (PRISM) Step-2 Due Date. Step-2 proposals now due 3 February 2021. Step-1 proposal due date unchanged as 11 December 2020 »  Details.
4 December 2020
Release of Final text and Due Dates for ROSES Post-COVID Recovery program. Requests received by 4 January 2021 will be processed first. Final due date is 5 March 2021. »  Details.
4 December 2020
NICER seeks panel members for Cycle 3 proposal review »  Details.
4 December 2020
NASA Science seeking volunteer proposal reviewers in Earth and Space Science »  Details.
9 November 2020
SMD Community Town Hall on Tues 17 November to discuss updates to the Agency-wide science program. »  Details.
6 November 2020
NASA Fundamental Physics Program Virtual Town Hall on 3 December 2020, to discuss research priorities in advance of the Biological and Physical Sciences Division Decadal Survey. »  Details.
5 November 2020
Call for proposals for Payloads and Research Investigations on the Surface of the Moon (PRISM). Step-1 Proposals are due 11 December 2020. »  Details.
28 October 2020
Call for proposals on Open-Source Tools, Libraries, and Frameworks. »  Details.
28 October 2020
Revised Text and Due Date for NuSTAR General Observer Program Cycle 7. »  Details.
22 Oct 2020
Principal Investigator Launchpad workshop in Summer 2021, targeted toward researchers developing their first flight mission concepts. »  Details.
21 October 2020
Revised submission date: Applications Sought for PhysPAG Executive Committee. Submissions now due November 6. »  Details.
14 October 2020
Astrophysics Explorers Announcement of Opportunity Community Announcement »  Details.
17 September 2020
NASA announces major revisions in Astrophysics Research and Analysis opportunity. Due dates remain unchanged. »  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.

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