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Xiamen-Cardiff Seminar

Listening to the universe with gravitational waves

Speaker: Mark Hannam (Cardiff University)
Date: Friday 19 November 2021
Time: 9:30 in UK
Venue: Zoom

Gravitational waves were predicted by Einstein in 2016, but it took another century for them to be to directly detected, in 2015. Since then gravitational-wave detectors have measured 90 individual signals, all from binary systems of black holes or neutron stars. This includes the 35 new signals announced by the LIGO-Virgo-Kagra collaborations on November 5th. I will briefly review the history of gravitational-wave detection, and then speak in more detail about the properties of the main source of our observations – mergers of black holes – and how we measure their properties, and what we have learned in the last six years about the black holes in our universe.

Short bio: I studied at Waikato and Canterbury Universities in New Zealand, and at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in the USA. During my PhD I numerically solved the equations necessary to provide initial conditions for simulations of collisions of black holes. After I completed my PhD in 2003, I embarked on a research world tour, stopping at the University of Texas at Brownsville; the Friedrich-Schiller-University in Jena, Germany; University College Cork, Ireland; and the University of Vienna, Austria. In 2010 I came to Cardiff as an STFC Advanced Fellow, and became a professor in 2015. In 2015 I was also awarded an ERC Consolidator Grant to study precessing binary black holes. The results of this work have been used to measure the properties of the black-hole mergers observed by the Advanced LIGO and Virgo detectrs.