University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

Physics and Astronomy Calendar

Friday, March 29th 2019
2:30 pm:
Speaker: Vuk Mandic
Subject: Observing the Universe with Gravitational Waves

Since 2015 the LIGO and Virgo gravitational-wave detectors have observed 10 collisions of black hole pairs and one merger of two neutron stars. In addition to enabling unprecedented tests of the theory of General Relativity, these discoveries introduced a new way of observing the universe. While the traditional telescopes observe the universe using electromagnetic waves (i.e. light), LIGO and Virgo do so by measuring tiny ripples in space-time produced by accelerating massive objects moving at speeds near the speed of light. Using the two types of observations together, as was done in the case of the binary neutron star merger, opens a variety of new possible studies ranging from formation mechanisms for the heaviest elements in the periodic table to novel measurements of the expansion rate of the universe. I will describe how these discoveries were made, and I will discuss their implications as well as the exciting future prospects in the field of gravitational waves.

Faculty Host: Evan Skillman

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