Wednesday, Dec. 6 at 6 p.m.
The Search for Lumbering Giants: Listening to the whispers of Behemoth Black Holes
Assistant Professor, Department of Physics
Oregon State University
The Universe whispers to us across the vastness of spacetime, telling us about black holes, neutron stars and other compact objects. Only recently have we been able to listen to these whispers in the form of gravitational waves- a prediction of Einstein’s theory of general relativity unseen until this century. Pulsar timing arrays open a new band of the gravitational wave spectrum by building a galactic-scale GW detector. This past Summer PTAs across the world reported the first evidence of a signal from GWs. This signal is thought to be from the unresolvable background formed by supermassive black hole binaries (SMBBHs) at the centers of merged galaxies in the cosmological neighborhood- a hum of lumbering giants. While SMBBHs are expected to be the strongest source of GWs, PTAs are sensitive to any GW signal in the nanohertz regime - I will highlight some of the potential members of this exotic menagerie.
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