Einstein was right again! Catching gravitational waves and light from colliding stars

Einstein was right again! Catching gravitational waves and light from colliding stars

Einstein's Gravitational Waves and light produced by the same event - a pair of neutron stars - have been detected for the first time in August 2017, an extraordinary moment in the history of Physics. The talk will explain what gravitational waves are, and how they were discovered by the LIGO collaboration, initially for systems of binary black holes. We will then learn how optical flashes were detected in the case of the binary neutron star merger by the Dark Energy Survey (DES) and by other observatories around the world, across the electromagnetic spectrum. Instruments developed for other purposes turned out to be extremely useful for following up gravitational wave events. Such 'multi-messenger' observations provide us with important information, from how gold is produced in stars to the nature of the expansion of the universe

 

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About Ofer Lahav

Ofer Lahav is Perren Chair of Astronomy at University College London (UCL). His research area is observational Cosmology, in particular probing and characterising Dark Matter and Dark Energy. His work involves advanced statistical methods, e.g. Machine Learning for Big Data. Lahav is one of the founders of the Dark Energy Survey (DES), and he co-chaired the international DES Science Committee from inception until 2016. He studied at Tel-Aviv University (BSc, 1980), at Ben-Gurion University (MSc, 1985) and earned his PhD from the University of Cambridge (1988), where he was later a Member of Staff at the Institute of Astronomy (1990-2003). At UCL he served as Head of Astrophysics (2004-2011), establishing Cosmology as a research area. Currently he is co-Director of the new STFC-funded Centre for Doctoral Training in Data Intensive Science and the Principal Investigator of a European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant on "Testing the Dark Energy Paradigm". Over the years he has supervised over 20 PhD students at Cambridge and UCL. He served as Vice-President of the Royal Astronomical Society (2010-2012), and currently he is a member of the STFC Science Board.