Can you hear black holes collide?
Black holes are among the most evocative concepts of modern science. Apparently made from nothing, these objects challenge our understanding of space and time. Black holes play a central role in much of frontier physics, from the ongoing effort to unify quantum theory and gravity to the life and death of massive stars and the evolution of structures in the Universe. Astronomy has provided convincing evidence for the existence of black holes, yet we are still not able to probe them in detail. This is expected to change when gravitational-wave astronomy finally becomes a reality in the next few years. Black holes orbiting around one another and eventually merging are the most promising sources for detectable waves of gravity, and as the final signal has frequency in the audible range it makes sense to ask: Can you hear black holes collide?
About Nils Andersson
Nils Andersson is a Professor of Applied Mathematics at the University of Southampton. He got his PhD from Uppsala University in his native Sweden in 1991 having written a thesis on black-hole oscillations. He is an acknowledged expert on Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and spends much of his time thinking about the extremes of the Universe involving black holes, neutron stars and gravitational waves. Until recently he was the chair of the Gravitational Physics group within the Institute of Physics. He takes a keen interest in science communication and engages with audiences across the entire range from children to keen amateurs and experts.