Physics / Relativity / Science And Math

The Direction of LIGO’s Gravitational Waves

The direction of LIGO's gravitational waves, superposed

On September 14th, 2015, the LIGO gravitational wave observatory network detected the gravitational waves from the merger of two black holes. In moments, the LIGO team estimated (very broadly) where the black holes were located in the sky; these regions are highlighted in figure 1. Today I tell you how they figured this out. And why it’s important. Electromagnetic Counterparts First, let’s talk about why the direction of the waves is important. When LIGO detects gravitational waves, those waves can tell us an awful lot about their source. Just from the waveform, LIGO learned that the waves from December

Astrophysics / Physics / Relativity / etc.

The Black Holes that Created LIGO’s Gravitational Waves

LIGO merger Bohn

A little over a week ago, the LIGO collaboration detected gravitational waves emitted during the in-spiral and merger of two black holes. And the world’s scientists, myself included, collectively went bananas. Last week, I attempted to summarize the event and capture some of the science, and poetry, that has us so excited. In short, gravitational waves provide us a totally new way to look at the universe. LIGO’s one detection has already provided us with a wealth of information about gravity and astrophysics. Today, I summarize some of what we’ve learned. Black Holes As We Knew Them In the

Astrophysics / Physics / Relativity / etc.

The Poetry of LIGO’s Gravitational Waves

Binary Black Hole Merger Signal

Yesterday the LIGO scientific collaboration announced that they had detected the gravitational waves from the in-spiral and merger of two black holes, shown in figure 1. It would not be an overstatement to say that this result has changed science forever. As a gravitational physicist, it is hard for me to put into words how scientifically important and emotionally powerful this moment is for me and for everyone in my field. But I’m going to try. This is my attempt to capture some of the science—and the poetry—of LIGO’s gravitational wave announcement. The Source About 1.3 billion years ago

Astrophysics / Physics / Relativity / etc.

What Space Projects Excite Me: Multi-Messenger Astronomy

The remnants of a supernova found in 1987

A few weeks ago, awesome blogger and space advocate Zain Husain asked me to contribute to a roundup post he wrote. He contacted a bunch of people (most of them much more prestigious than me) and asked them one question: What NASA or space project are you most excited about and why? You can (and should) read everybody’s response to Zain’s question on his blog, here. However, I wanted to expand on part of my answer and tell you why I’m excited about multi-messenger astronomy. Supernova Supernova It all starts with the title image above. That’s an image of