Campus, Varian 355
Since the first detection two years ago, gravitational waves have promised to revolutionize the physics and astrophysics of compact objects. But to understand what these gravitational waves are telling us, we need to understand how these relativistic binary systems form in the first place. In this talk, I will describe the various astrophysical pathways for forming the binary mergers detected by LIGO/Virgo, and how specific features of the gravitational waves (such as the eccentricities and spins) can illuminate the formation histories of these exotic objects. In particular, I will discuss how black holes can undergo multiple mergers in dense star clusters, creating a second generation of black holes more massive (and with potentially greater spins) than those formed through the collapse of isolated stars.