Black hole binaries - a unique love story (Free Astronomy Public Lectures)


One of the greatest scientific discoveries of all times was achieved last week: the first detection of gravitational waves, emitted by a black hole binary. This discovery follows decades of intense work, and opens a new window to the Universe. This talk, for scientists and for non-scientists, is about black hole binaries, and the dawn of gravitational wave astronomy. This talk is about the curious romance of Alice and Bob. Nobody has heard it before, but we can speculate about what happened: how they were born, how they grew, how they first met, and how they finally became one forever. The true story is actually written in space-time, has been traveling across the Universe for more than a billion years, and is reaching Earth now. This is the story of two distant black holes merging into one. You may be wondering how we can hear it: is there really a way to listen to the voice of space-time? I will endeavour to answer this question, and explain how we attempt to discover new sounds of the Universe that we have never been able to listen to before. The talk will involve the loudest events in the Universe, like supernovae or collisions of neutron stars and black holes. In other words, I will speak about the dawn of gravitational wave astronomy, and pose that the mysterious love story of Alice and Bob might soon be finally heard, loud and clear. Presented on 18 February 2016.

Created by

Pablo A. Rosado (Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing)

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