Ringing Black Hole Bells and Other Exciting Recent Results in Gravitational Wave Astronomy

  • Speaker
  • Will Farr, Ph.D.Group Leader, Gravitational Wave Astronomy, CCA, Flatiron Institute
Date & Time


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Simons Foundation Lectures are free public colloquia related to basic science and mathematics. These high-level talks are intended for professors, students, postdocs and business professionals, but interested people from the metropolitan area are welcome as well.
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In the last five years, the exciting new field of gravitational wave astronomy has delivered many firsts: the first detection of gravitational waves — from a pair of black holes merging — in 2015; the first detection of gravitational waves from a merging pair of neutron stars — an event which also produced electromagnetic emission that was ultimately observed in various ways by roughly 30 percent of the global astronomical community — in 2017; the first catalog of binary black hole mergers that provided evidence for a maximum stellar-origin black hole mass due to an unusual type of supernova explosion in 2018; the first detection of multiple gravitational wave ‘spectral lines’ from a ‘ringing’ black hole announced in 2019; and many oddities in 2020, including a black hole merger with masses above the stellar-origin limit, a detection of an unusually massive neutron star merger, and a detection of a merger with one object with a mass that is larger than expected for a neutron star but smaller than expected for a black hole. In this lecture, Will M. Farr will discuss some of these exciting results in detail and explain the bright future of this fast-moving new field.

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About the Speaker

Farr earned his B.S. in physics from Caltech and, in 2010, his Ph.D. from MIT. After a CIERA fellowship at Northwestern University, he joined the faculty at the University of Birmingham in 2013. In 2018, he moved to Stony Brook University and the Flatiron Institute’s Center for Computational Astrophysics (CCA). He is currently an associate professor of physics and astronomy at Stony Brook University and the leader of the CCA’s Gravitational Wave Astronomy group. He is a member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, an international collaboration of scientists studying gravitational waves detected by the LIGO instruments.

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