Colloquium: “Gravitational Wave Astrophysics: A New Era of Discovery.” – January 23, 2019, at 4:00 PM

Jessica McIver, PhD,
Senior Postdoctoral Scholar in Physics, Caltech
George P. Williams, Jr. Lecture Hall, (Olin 101)
Wednesday, January 23, 2018, at 4:00 PM

There will be a reception with refreshments at 3:30 PM in the lounge. All interested persons are cordially invited to attend.


Large-scale interferometric detectors including LIGO and Virgo sense gravitational waves; minuscule fluctuations in space-time from the most extreme phenomena in the Universe. The first detection of gravitational waves from a binary black hole merger by LIGO in 2015 was recently awarded a Nobel Prize, and the 2017 detection of gravitational waves by LIGO and Virgo in concert with an associated electromagnetic counterpart was a breakthrough in multi-messenger astronomy. Future gravitational wave observations will provide exciting new insight into key open questions in astrophysics, including the distribution of stellar remnants in the Universe, the evolution of compact binary systems, galaxy formation, the expansion of the Universe, and the explosion mechanism of core-collapse supernovae.
I will summarize the major outstanding challenges in gravitational wave astrophysics, including extracting transient signals from noisy interferometer data that contains a high rate of transient noise artifacts. I will present transformative new data science and machine learning techniques to address these challenges and enable future multi-messenger discoveries. I will discuss how the rapidly developing field of gravitational wave astrophysics will shape our understanding of the Universe, including the growing global interferometer network, the next generation of terrestrial interferometers, and the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA).