Special Colloquium

Wednesday, February 22, 2017
3:30 PM
Physics Building, Room 204
Note special date.
Note special room.

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"Gravitational waves from binary black holes across the spectrum"

Michele Vallisneri , Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Caltech
[Host: Peter Arnold]

On September 14, 2015, the two LIGO detectors simultaneously observed a transient gravitational-wave signal, which was named GW150914. The signal fit very precisely the general-relativistic prediction for the inspiral, merger, and ringdown of a pair of stellar-mass black holes, with component masses greater than was thought possible in standard evolution scenarios. This was the first direct detection of gravitational waves and the first observation of a binary black-hole merger. I describe the mechanics and behind-the-scenes of the detection, and its implications for astrophysics and fundamental physics. Two additional black-hole binaries were detected in LIGO's first observing run, and more are expected from current data taking. At the low-frequency side of the gravitational-wave spectrum, signals from massive black-hole binaries are targeted by the space-based observatory LISA, now on track for launch in the early 2030s, and by pulsar-timing arrays, with a positive detection expected in ten years. I discuss the science case, prospects, and requirements of these programs.



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