The presumed existence of atomic hydrogen in the vicinity of sources of gravitational radiation suggests its use as a radiation detector. Curvature-induced atomic energy level shifts carry a unique signature and could thus provide for remote detection of gravitational radiation. We investigate the shifts induced by space-time curvature arising from gravitational waves. The effect is studied for both low-lying and highly excited states of atomic hydrogen. Numerical results are quoted for radiation from various sources, including binary star systems, binary neutron stars, binary black holes, collapsing stars, and pulsars. In addition, we provide a theoretical upper limit to the magnitude of the effect. For completeness, we examine the shifts induced in a harmonic oscillator as well as a rigid rotator.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)