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First Gravitational Wave Detection

CSI Gravity: Investigating Mysteries of Fundamental Physics with Black Holes

Event Type
Department of Astronomy
134 Astronomy Building
wifi event
Apr 23, 2024   3:45 - 4:45 pm  
Helvi Witek
Daniel Franco

Black holes are among the most exciting predictions of Einstein's theory of general relativity, composed of the fabric of spacetime itself. Observations of black holes offer unique access to extreme gravity, and they enable us to investigate long-standing puzzles in fundamental physics ranging from dark matter to the very nature of gravity itself.
 In my presentation, I will first give you an overview of recent black hole observations, including gravitational wave detections. I will then discuss how we produce theoretical models of black hole mergers and gravitational waves using numerical relativity, that are needed to correctly interpret the observations. I will conclude with a taster on how we can use numerical relativity simulations to learn about the nature of gravity or new (axionlike) particles.

Bio: Helvi Witek is an expert on gravitational wave physics, numerical relativity and strong-field tests of gravity.
 After receiving her PhD at the University of Lisbon, she was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Cambridge (UK) and the University of Nottingham (UK). Helvi was a Marie-Curie Fellow at the University of Barcelona and a Royal Society University Research Fellow in London, before joining the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign as an assistant professor in 2020.
 Helvi is a co-chair of the LISA Waveform Working Group and a co-PI of the Einstein Toolkit cyberinfrastructure for computational astrophysics.

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