THE GRAVITATIONAL UNIVERSE: A NEW VIEW OF THE COSMOS

Lecture with Shane L. Larson
(CIERA, Northwestern University & Adler Planetarium, USA)
March 22  | 9:30p.m. | Great Auditorium of the University of Aveiro Rectory

This was an initiative of the UA American Corner in collaboration with FISUA - Associação de Física da Universidade de Aveiro, integrated in the seventh edition of the cycle of lectures "Horizontes da Física".


Abstract

Virtually everything we know about the Universe has been discovered from the study of photons light in all its myriad forms from radio waves, to visible light, to x-rays and beyond.  At the dawn of the 21st century, advanced technology is providing access to the Cosmos through detection of ripples in the fabric of spacetime itself.
 
These ripples in spacetime, called gravitational waves, carry information not in the form of light or particles, but in the form of gravity itself. In the early morning hours of 14 September 2015, a long-awaited gravitational wave signal came booming out of the sky, trigging the twin LIGO detectors in Hanford, Washington and Livingston, Louisiana.  The signal was the signature of two black holes merging to form a new, larger black hole. The event happened 1.3 billion lightyears away, and the information has been travelling toward Earth since before multi-cellular life existed on our planet.
 
In this chat, we talked about this momentous discovery how we found out about it, what LIGO saw, what it taught us about the Universe, and what the future holds in store for us now.
 
About the speaker
Shane Larson is a research associate professor of physics at Northwestern University, where he is a member of CIERA (Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics). He is also an astronomer at the Adler Planetarium. His research is focused on the field of gravitational wave astrophysics, specializing in studies of compact stars, binaries, and the galaxy.  He works in gravitational wave astronomy with both the ground-based LIGO project, and the future space-based detector LISA.
 
Shane grew up in eastern Oregon, and was an undergraduate at Oregon State University where he received his B.S. in Physics in 1991.  He received an M.S. in Physics (1994) and a Ph.D. in theoretical physics (1999) from Montana State University.  Before moving to Northwestern, he was a tenured associate professor of physics at Utah State University. He is an award winning teacher, and a Fellow of the American Physical Society.
 
Shane is also an avid amateur astronomer, observing with two homebuilt Dobsonian telescopes, named EQUINOX and COSMOS MARINER.  He currently lives in the Chicago area with his wife, daughter and cats.  In addition to astronomy, he enjoys hiking, mountain biking, and geocaching.  He also collects Legos, fountain pens, and telescopes.
 
He contributes regularly to a public science blog at writescience.wordpress.com, and tweets with the handle @sciencejedi .
last updated 31/03/2017
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