Dr. Nathan Leigh - American Museum of Natural History


Title: What is chaos, and what does it have to do with black holes and gravitational waves?

Abstract: The era of gravitational wave detection is upon us. Advanced LIGO (aLIGO) is now in full operation. It has successfully detected the gravitational waves emitted from distant pairs of black holes (BHs) as they spiral together and merge. And we have many more detections to look forward to. But where are these BH-BH mergers happening, in the vast wilderness of the cosmos?
One of the preferred candidates are globular clusters, massive systems of very old stars densely packed together and bound together by gravity. Globular clusters are factories for black hole binary mergers. But we are only able to observe these factories in operation now. In order to understand how they were built and the treasures they should be expected to produce at present, we must somehow rewind their evolution over billions of years to say something about the initial conditions. Only then will we be able to understand how these beasts birth BH binaries, and are contributing to the gravitational waves currently being observed by aLIGO. After a brief overview of the concept of chaos, I will discuss recent progress in advancing our understanding of the origins of BH-BH mergers.
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McMaster University - Faculty of Science | Physics & Astronomy