Seminar Series

Gravitational waves: a new era in astrophysics

Speaker

Dr Ra Inta, Postdoctoral Scholar

Institute

Department of Physics, Texas Tech University

Time & Place

Fri, 26 Feb 2016 11:00:00 NZDT in Room 531, Level 5, Rutherford Building

All are welcome

Abstract

The recent announcement of the first direct detection of gravitational waves by LIGO marks an exciting milestone for fundamental physics, as the first test for Einstein's 
general relativity in the very strong field regime. However, it also heralds a new era in observational astrophysics. This first detection was a merger of a close stellar-mass black hole binary system. Such a system had not been observed prior by any observatory. The masses of the black holes, roughly thirty solar masses each, was far higher than observed previously and it was not known for sure if such stellar-mass black holes could exist. To add to this excitement, the LIGO detectors made this observation as soon as they possibly could; even before they began their official science run! This has extremely positive implications for the field of gravitational-wave astrophysics.

Here I will talk about what gravitational waves are, how observations are conducted, and give details of this exciting detection.