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Gravitational Wave Astrophysics: Instrumentation, Detector Characterization, and a Search for Gravitational Signals from Gamma-ray Bursts

Abstract
In the coming years, the second generation of interferometric gravitational wave detectors are widely expected to observe the gravitational radiation emitted by compact, energetic events in the nearby universe. The field of gravitational wave astrophysics has grown into a large international endeavor with a global network of kilometer-scale observatories. The work presented in this thesis spans the field, from optical metrology, to instrument commissioning, to detector characterization and data analysis. The principal results are a method for the precise characterization of optical cavities, the commissioning of the advanced LIGO Output Mode Cleaner at the Hanford observatory, and a search for gravitational waves associated with gamma-ray bursts.
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