Hearing the Thunder and Seeing the Lightning: A Gravitational Wave Detection of Colliding Neutron Stars

Jun 13, 2018 - 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm

SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Kavli Auditorium, 2575 Sand Hill Rd, Menlo Park, CA 94025

Dr Daniel Holz, University of Chicago

On August 17, 2017 the LIGO/Virgo detectors heard the gravitational-wave chirp from a pair of colliding neutron stars. This was accompanied by a burst of energetic gamma rays. Twelve hours later, a new “star” appeared on the sky, only to disappear over the ensuing two weeks.

This unprecedented firework display was not only the first time we were able to ‘see’ where gravitational waves are coming from, but it taught us about the mysterious cause of high-energy gamma ray bursts, the origin of most of the gold and platinum in the Universe, and even gave us a new way to probe the expansion of the Universe. This discovery is a literal and figurative goldmine. Find out how it was discovered and what it has taught us.

About the Speaker

Daniel Holz in an expert in gravitational waves, in particular how colliding black holes and neutron stars can let us better understand the physics and history of our Universe. He is an associate professor at the University of Chicago and a member of the LIGO collaboration, having played an active role in the first gravitational discoveries of gravitational waves.

Holz received his A.B. in physics from Princeton University in 1992, under the mentorship of John Wheeler, then his PhD at the University of Chicago with Robert Wald in 1998. He held postdoctoral fellowship at the Albert Einstein Institute (Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics) in Potsdam, Germany, the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics in Santa Barbara, the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics in Chicago and the Los Alamos National Laboratory, before returning to the University of Chicago as a faculty member in 2011.