Friday 04 Mar 2016Gravitational Waves and their Detection

Prof. James Hough - University of Glasgow

Newman Red 12:30-13:30

Gravitational waves – a prediction of Einstein’s General Relativity – are still among the most elusive signals from far out in the Universe. Over the past decade the laser interferometric detectors LIGO (at Hanford and Livingston in the USA), Virgo (at Cascina in Italy) and GEO 600 (at Ruthe in Germany) have been commissioned and operated at their design or close to design sensitivity. However in keeping with source strength predictions and, as expected, no gravitational wave signals were observed.

Now these detectors are being upgraded and observations with the Advanced LIGO detectors are now beginning again with the real expectation that signals from coalescing binary systems will be observed within the next few years. Such is the confidence currently, that a new detector is being built in Japan in the Kamioka mine and the third of the LIGO detectors is likely to be transferred to India, thus creating a truly world-wide network.

In this talk I will explain the nature of gravitational waves, why it is scientifically important to observe them, the current state of the field and the highlights of the technology.

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