Gravitational Waves from Binary Systems as Probes of the Universe

Date: 
02/07/2011 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Speaker: 
Nico Yunes
Speaker affiliation: 
MIT
Location: 
78-2120

Abstract:
The detection of gravitational waves promises to open a new window to the Universe. Detectors on Earth, such as Advanced LIGO and Advanced Virgo, and in space, such as LISA, hope to detect tens to hundreds of events from a variety of sources, prime among which are binary inspirals and mergers during their last parsec of evolution. Earth detectors are sensitive to waves in the deci to kiloHertz range, specially suited to observe solar-mass black hole and neutron star inspirals and mergers. Space detectors are sensitive in the milli-Hertz range, best suited to observe supermassive black hole coalescences in galaxy mergers, as well as extreme-mass ratio inspirals of solar-mass black holes into supermassive ones. These waves carry a wealth of information about the sources that generate them, together with information about the nature of the gravitational interaction. Thus, the detection of such waves will allow us to acquire invaluable astrophysical information, such as the detailed mass and spin distribution of black holes and the equation of state of neutron stars. Moreover, these waves will allow the most stringent tests of General Relativity in the strongest-gravitational regime accessible to observation. In this talk, I will discuss binary inspiral, gravitational wave sources and how their detection can be used to extract astrophysical information and learn about fundamental physics.

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