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Black-hole binaries on the road to merger
  OKC colloquia

Tuesday 10 January 2017
from 13:15 to 14:30
at FD5
Speaker : Davide Gerosa (Caltech)
Abstract : Following a century-long quest,  observations from the LIGO interferometers led to one of the  landmark event in modern physics: the first direct detections of gravitational-waves (GWs).  These are not only the first detections of such elusive ``ripples in spacetime’’, but also the first irrefutable observations of black-hole (BH) binary systems. In this talk I will review formation and evolutionary processes of BH binaries, focusing on the astrophysical information encoded in their GW signals. As two BHs orbit about each other,  energy and momentum are slowly dissipated away in the form of GWs and the orbital separation consequently shrinks.  At small separations where binary are observable, GW emission is a very efficient dissipation mechanism. The emitted signal can be modeled in the elegant framework of Einstein’s General Relativity and strong-gravity effects can be tested.  However, at large separations where binaries form, GWs alone would take longer than the age of the Universe to promote a BH merger. BH mergers are only relevant in Nature if some other astrophysical processes are at play to bring the binary to the critical separations where GWs can efficiently drive the inspiral.  BH binaries thus present a unique opportunity to explore a fascinating interplay between fundamental physics and astronomy. (Host: Mattia Bulla)

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