Special Edition Night Vision | Black Holes & Gravitational Waves: LIGO’s New View of the Cosmos

Special Guest

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.

black holes merging and creating gravitational waves

A simulation of gravitational waves produced by the merger of two black holes. Credit: Simulating eXtreme Spacetimes Project

These ripples in spacetime, called gravitational waves, carry information not in the form of light or particles, but in the form of gravity itself. LIGO has made the first detection of gravitational waves: they were the messenger which carried the story to Earth of two black holes colliding 1.3 billion lightyears away.

This talk will explore the modern description of gravity, what gravitational waves are and how we measure them, and what we hope to learn from their detection. Gravity has a story to tell, and in this talk, we’ll explore some of discoveries we hope to make by listening.

black holes merging and creating gravitational waves

A simulation of gravitational waves produced by the merger of two black holes. Credit: Simulating eXtreme Spacetimes Project, Simon Barke, University of Florida

This special edition of Night Vision is presented is presented by Dr. Shane Larson on Friday, April 15th at 7:00pm in the Orbital ATK IMAX Theatre.

Tickets available online or at the Clark Planetarium ticket desk. Free for members and $2 for everyone else.

 

About Dr. Larson

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. He works in 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 future space-based detectors for NASA.

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.

Comments are closed.