Physics and Astronomy Colloquium
Measuring Storms In Space-Time: Astronomy With Gravitational Radiation
Presented by Robert Ward, ANU
The age of gravitational wave astronomy has dawned: we now have a new form of radiation with which to study the Universe. On September 14, 2015, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors recorded the first direct observation by humankind of gravitational waves -- space-time distortions generated by objects with extreme gravity. These waves propagate over astrophysical distances and can be detected by the modulation imposed on the optical path of a suspended mirror laser interferometer. Modern laser interferometric gravitational wave detectors are giant, broadband opto-mechanical sensors that explore the audio spectrum from 1 Hz to 10 kHz. This entire frequency band is expected to contain signals from dynamical astrophysical processes of great interest, such as the inspiral and merger of compact objects, stellar core-collapse supernovae, spinning neutron stars and various astrophysical backgrounds. Even more tantalising are the unpredicted sources. I will discuss gravitational waves and the technology developed to detect them. I will describe what we have observed so far, what we hope to learn about the universe with this new astronomical messenger, and the research program at the Australian National University aiming to expand the horizons of gravitational wave detectors by attacking the limiting noise sources, of fundamental and technical origin.
3:30 pm, Friday, August 25, 2017
Room 125, Dane Smith Hall
Southwest corner of Las Lomas and Yale, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Refreshments will be available before the colloquium, at 3:15 pm, in the lobby of Dane Smith Hall.
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A schedule of talks within the Department of Physics and Astronomy is available on the P&A web site at http://physics.unm.edu/pandaweb/events/index.php