Homepage for Dr. Brennan Hughey

Brennan Hughey

email: hugheyb@erau.edu
phone: 928-777-6723
office: Room 254 Academic Complex I 
3700 Willow Creek Road, Prescott AZ

Dr. Hughey is an assistant professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's Prescott location.  His research has focused on attempts to use unique astrophysical messengers beyond the electromagnetic spectrum to learn more about the universe than we could with light alone.

Curriculum Vitae

Classes Taught

PS150 - Physics for Engineers I (please see Canvas pages for course info)
PS219 - Physics III
PS232 - Computational Methods
PS250 - Physics for Engineers III
PS350 - Quantum Mechanics
PS490/491 - Senior Thesis

Research Interests


LIGO Livingston interferometerDr. Hughey is currently a member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration.  LIGO uses large laser interferometers located at at Hanford, Washington and Livingston Parish, Louisiana to measure gravitational waves created by violent phenomena in space, such as the merger of two black holes.  The direct observation of gravitational waves provides a dramatic confirmation of Einstein's theory of General Relativity and has begun to open up an entirely new branch of astronomy performed with gravitational waves in addition to photons.  My current work in LIGO includes a search for gravitational waves coincident with short duration radio pulses from the Parkes and Green Bank Telescopes, and work in detector characterization, a subgroup that tries to understand and mitigate various sources of background that affect our ability to detect gravitational waves.  As part of the LIGO team, my contributions to the first direct detection of gravitational waves included providing data quality information improving the "generic transient" search, development and implementation of parts of the "detection checklist" used to validate the event prior to publication, and production of the spectrograms used in Figure 1 of the discovery paper. 

Selected Presentations:

"The first direct observation of gravitational waves"Science Speaker Series talk, winter 2016

"Astronomy Beyond Light" public talk for Prescott Astronomy Club, winter 2014
Embry-Riddle Seminar on LIGO Radio-Coincident Searches, presented fall 2013
Overview of LIGO data analysis talk, given summer 2012 in Kolymbari, Greece
Electromagnetic follow-up of candidate gravitational wave triggers by the Swift Satellite, presented summer 2012 in Stockholm, Sweden
Introduction to joint radio pulse/ gravitational wave search, given summer 2011 at Amaldi 9 in Cardiff, Wales

Selected LIGO papers to which I've contributed (publicly available arXiv links):

  Search for transient gravitational waves in coincidence with short duration radio transients during 2007-2013 (Physical Review D)
Observation of Gravitational Waves from a Binary Black Hole Merger (The discovery paper!  - Physical Review D)
Observing gravitational-wave transient GW150914 with minimal assumptions (Physical Review D)
Characterization of transient noise in Advanced LIGO relevant to gravitational wave signal GW150914 (Classical and Quantum Gravitation)
Swift Follow-Up Observations of Gravitational-Wave Candidate Events (Astrophysical Journal Supplements)
Implementation and testing of the first prompt search for gravitational waves with electromagnetic counterparts (Astronomy and Astrophysics)
Reducing the effect of seismic noise in LIGO searches by targeted veto generation (Classical and Quantum Gravitation)
All-sky search for gravitational-wave bursts in the first joint LIGO-Virgo-GEO run (Physical Review D)
Search for High Frequency Gravitational Wave Bursts in the First Calendar Year of LIGO's Fifth Science Run (Physical Review D)

KNAU (Arizona NPR) radio interview


Brennan Hughey at South Pole in early
        2003Dr. Hughey's thesis work was done as part of the IceCube collaboration while at the University of Wisconsin - Madison.  IceCube is a detector buried in the Antarctic ice near the geographic South Pole designed to detect high energy neutrinos arriving at Earth from space.  Like gravitational waves, neutrinos are an astronomical messenger with the potential to teach us a great deal about the universe.  In particular neutrino observations may provide clues about the inner workings of Gamma-ray Bursts and the origins of the highest energy cosmic rays.

Selected links:
Ph.D. thesis
seminar given at Hope College in Fall 2004
Search for neutrino-induced cascades from gamma-ray bursts with AMANDA (the Astrophysical Journal)

A more complete collection of presentation links (including password protected LIGO proprietary talks) can be found at my MIT homepage