LIGO Document G1600265-v2

The Dawn of Gravitational Wave Astronomy

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Physics Colloquium at Rochester Institute of Technology, 2016 February 24

Gravitational waves are ripples in the geometry of space and time which propagate at the speed of light, predicted by Einstein's General Theory of Relativity. Last fall, the Advanced LIGO detectors in Louisiana and Washington State began their first observing run, resulting in the recently reported first direct detection of gravitational waves, from a binary black hole inspiral, merger and ringdown. This first gravitational wave observation kicks off the field of Gravitational Wave Astronomy. I will present an overview of: 1) the science done so far with detectors such as LIGO and the Virgo and GEO600 detectors in Italy and Germany, 2) the most promising prospects for future observations with Advanced LIGO, Advanced Virgo, and planned detectors such as KAGRA (Japan) and LIGO India, and 3) the involvement of RIT scientists in the gravitational-wave enterprise.

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