Into the era of gravitational wave astrophysics

September 5, 2020 8:30 - 10:00


The observation of gravitational waves from binary black holes and binary neutron stars by the LIGO-Virgo scientific collaboration (comprised of the two US-based LIGO detectors and the Franco-Italian
Virgo interferometer) heralds a new era in astrophysics, in which gravitational waves will probe the universe in a new and complementary way to traditional telescopes. While the existence of gravitational waves had been demonstrated indirectly in binary pulsars, the first direct detections  also provide the most convincing evidence to date of the very existence of black holes, as well as the first evidence that neutron star mergers are the engine behind short gamma ray bursts. With several new detectors coming online soon, these detections are just the beginning, with the Japanese detector KAGRA under construction and the planned construction of a LIGO detector in India and third generation detectors in Europe (Einstein Telescope) and the US (Cosmic Explorer). These terrestrial interferometers are
targeting binaries of stellar-mass BHs (with masses even higher than the current detections, i.e. up to few hundred solar masses, if they exist) but also neutron-star and black hole - neutron star binaries. At the same time, a flurry of activity is taking place at the lower frequencies necessary to probe massive BHs. Pulsar timing arrays  are searching for gravitational waves at nHz frequencies, and have already obtained significant upper limits on astrophysical populations of black holes of several billion solar masses. Moreover, the spectacular success of LISA Pathfinder in 2016 has paved the way for ESA's Laser Interferometer Space Antenna.
The Institute for Fundamental Physics of the Universe (IFPU), Trieste, in coordinations with its founding partners: SISSA, INAF, ICTP and INFN, proposes to discuss breakthroughs and challenges of this scientific milestone with leading figures in this exciting experimental panorama: Marica Branchesi, Michele Punturo and Michele Vallisneri.

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