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Public Talk

Einstein, Gravitational Waves, Black Holes, and Other Matters

May 23, 2018

When: May 23, 2018 7:00PM
Where: Center Stage Theater, 751 Paseo Nuevo, Santa Barbara

Gabriela González

Louisiana State University

More than a hundred years ago, Einstein predicted that there were ripples in the fabric of space-time traveling at the speed of light: gravitational waves. On September 14, 2015, the LIGO detectors in Hanford, Washington, and Livingston, Louisiana, in the US registered for the first time ever a loud gravitational wave signal traveling through Earth, created more than a billion years ago by the merger of two black holes. Several other gravitational waves from black holes were detected, including one by LIGO and the Virgo detector in Europe produced by two neutron stars giving birth to a black hole, generating also electromagnetic waves detected by many telescopes. We will describe the history and details of the observations, and the gravity-bright future of the field.

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Gabriela González

Gabriela González is a Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Louisiana State University, where she conducts research on the detection of gravitational waves with a large group of people working on the subject, both in theory and experiment. LSU is only 30 miles from the LIGO Livingston Observatory.

Professor González has been a member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC) since 1997, and in 2011 she was elected as its spokesperson. Her group is involved with the characterization of the noise in the LIGO detectors, with the calibration of the detectors, and with the analysis of the data. In analyzing the data, she searches for the waves produced by binary systems of compact stars in the last orbits of their cosmic dance, before coalescing into a single black hole.

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