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Building a Galaxy-Scale Gravitational Wave Detector

Galaxies grew in the early universe by merging with each other, and as they coalesced, the supermassive black holes at their hearts merged with each other, too. Einstein's theory of general relativity predicts the existence of gravitational waves - the stretching and squeezing of space itself - as such black hole mergers take place. We have recently detected these ripples from the mergers of stellar black holes, but the mergers of supermassive black holes produce ripples with much longer wavelengths, requiring a galaxy-scale detector to observe them.

Dr. Chatterjee will describe how we are using rapidly spinning neutron stars as clocks to build such a long-wavelength gravitational wave detector, how the searches for these neutron stars have turned up fast radio bursts, and how these mysterious radio flashes from distant galaxies are teaching us more about the universe we live in.

Speaker: Dr. Shami Chatterjee, Cornel Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science

Monday, 04/01/19


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$15 General, $12 Members & Seniors

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California Academy of Sciences

55 Music Concourse Dr.
San Francisco, CA 94118

Phone: (415) 379-8000
Website: Click to Visit