A new ear on the Universe: gravitational waves

July 25, 2016 8:30 - 9:45 am


The first direct detection of gravitational waves by the LIGO observatory in late 2015 was a global news sensation – but the real story is still to come. Gravitational waves are 'ripples' in the fabric of space-time caused by some of the most violent and energetic processes in the Universe – but they are not electromagnetic radiation. Gravitational waves therefore can provide a view of the Universe that is completely new and outside the abilities of conventional EM fields of study such as astronomy. This session will outline how scientists will rely on a network of observatories in the US, Italy, Germany, India and Japan, and in space, to improve our abilities to detect the waves. It will examine what we expect to learn from gravitational waves about cosmic objects and events such as the collision of black holes, neutron stars and supernovae – and what this might mean for our understanding of the origins, and future, of the Universe.

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