The larger hole (yellow orbit) is spinning about 90% as fast as possible and is 6 times more massive than the smaller hole, which is spinning about 30% as fast as possible. The horizon, shown just after the collision, is shaded by its vorticity, which measures how the hole twists space. Credit: Andy Bohn, Larry Kidder, and the Simulating eXtreme Spacetimes collaboration.
Colliding Black Holes and Ripples in Space and Time
Gravitational waves---ripples in space and time---are poised to open a new window, showing us more of the universe than we could otherwise see. Detectors will soon begin searching for gravitational waves from violent astronomical events, like black holes smashing into each other. Seeing these waves will let scientists test whether Einstein's theory of gravity is right, even under the most extreme conditions, but because they come from so far away, the waves are very faint by the time they reach Earth. Computer simulations of the gravitational waves emitted by colliding black holes help astronomers find as many waves as possible within noisy detector data, and they help scientists learn more about how black holes work. In this talk. I will discuss the latest results and current challenges in simulating colliding black holes and the gravitational waves they send out across the universe.
Geoffrey Lovelace is an Assistant Professor of Physics at California State University, Fullerton. He received his B.S. in Physics from the University of Oklahoma in 2002 and his Ph.D. in Physics from the California Institute of Technology in 2007. He currently leads a research group at Cal State Fullerton, where he and his students use supercomputers to simulate colliding black holes and neutron stars and the gravitational waves they emit.
"What's Up?" in this month will be presented by Craig Bobchin