Gravitational-wave Astronomy with Terrestrial Interferometers
Speaker: Prof. Stefan Ballmer (Syracuse University)
Time: May 12, 2016 16:00
Abstract: On September 14, 2015 the twin Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors observed for the first time ripples in the fabric of spacetime called gravitational waves. The observed signal suggests that these gravitational waves were caused by two black holes, about 29 and 36 times the mass of the sun, colliding at about half the speed of light. About 3 times the mass of the sun was converted into gravitational wave energy in a fraction of a second. In this talk I will explore the long history of gravitational wave research, highlight the challenges in building and commissioning the detectors capable of delivering this scientific break-through, and discuss what we learned from this first observation in an entirely new field of astronomy. I will conclude with a look at what we can expect from future gravitational wave observatories.
Bio: Stefan Ballmer is an Assistant Professor of Physics at Syracuse University. Over the last 15 years his research was focused on enabling the direct observation of gravitational waves and improving the required detector technology. Stefan earned his Physics Diploma from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich, Switzerland, and his Ph.D. in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States. Before joining Syracuse University he was a Millikan Fellow at the California Institute of Technology, and a visiting researcher at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan. In 2014 Stefan spent a sabbatical at the LIGO Hanford Observatory in Washington State, commissioning the Advanced LIGO interferometer.