Catching gravitational waves

With Sheila Rowan

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Sheila Rowan explains the nature of gravitational waves, where they come from, how we detected them, and what the future of this new era in astronomy might look like.

A century ago, Albert Einstein realised that in his new model for space and time in our Universe (his 'General Theory of Relativity'), space could be stretching and squashing in response to the motion of objects. These ripples in space-time - 'Gravitational waves' - are produced by some of the most energetic and dramatic phenomena in our universe, including black holes, neutron stars and supernovae.

Close to 100 years after the prediction of the existence of gravitational waves, the advanced detectors of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) recently detected such signals for the first time, starting a new era in astronomy. Sheila Rowan explains the nature of gravitational waves, describes what sources out in the Universe can produce them, explains how they are detected and what the future of this new era in astronomy might look like.

Sheila Rowan is a professor in the School of Physics and Astronomy at University of Glasgow. Her research focusses on gravitational wave detection on the ground and in space. Her programme currently includes studies of ultra sensitive mechanical systems; investigation of materials of ultra-low mechanical loss and construction of mechanically-stable optical systems for interferometric applications.

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Themes

Space & Time

Details

Type:
Talk
Location:
London, UK
Published:
2016
Filmed:
2016

cc_by-nc-sa License: Creative Commons

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