Calendar of Events
A galactic-scale gravitational-wave detector for the biggest black holes in the universe
Speaker: Sarah Burke-Spolaor, West Virginia University
Abstract: A half-decade ago, LIGO first allowed us to detect gravitational waves. However, just like electromagnetic light, gravitational waves have a broad spectrum of emission frequencies over which different objects will emit. I will describe efforts in low-frequency gravitational wave detection, realized by pulsar timing arrays, which use rapidly spinning stars as naturally occurring test masses to detect gravitational waves. Pulsar timing arrays use distributed networks of pulsars to sense these waves as they pass through our galaxy; in effect, they are an observatory on a Galactic scale. The sources that make waves in this low-frequency (nanohertz to microhertz) waveband are binary supermassive black holes, the biggest, meanest discrete binary systems in the Universe.
Host: Chuck Keeton