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Opening the Gravitational Wave Universe: Extending the Reach of Gravitational Wave Detectors

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Date: February 2nd, 2017

Speaker: Sheila Dwyer, LIGO Hanford Observatory


With the first direct detection of gravitational waves, the LIGO detectors have opened a new field of astrophysics, discovered a new class of massive stellar mass black holes, and enabled tests of general relativity.  To make these discoveries, we built the most sensitive displacement meters yet, measuring displacements of one thousandth of a proton diameter over a 4 kilometer baseline.  This talk will focus on the fundamental noise sources which limit the performance of gravitational wave detectors, and the possibilities for extending their reach.  Squeezed states of light, cryogenic operation and new optical materials have the potential to dramatically increase the distances at which gravitational wave observations can be made.  In a new and larger facility, LIGO style detectors could observe compact object binaries from the earliest periods of star formation, making complete surveys of an epoch difficult to observe with optical telescopes.

Host: Jim Brau

Time: 4:00-5:00pm
Location: 100 Willamette Hall


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