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Advanced LIGO: Gravitational-wave astronomy and binary neutron stars

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Tommaso Giannantonio.

Advanced LIGO will make its first observations in 2015. Over the next few years, its sensitivity will increase and it is expected to make the first direct detection of gravitational waves. The will mark the beginning of gravitational-wave astronomy. In this talk, I will give a brief overview of gravitational-wave astronomy, introducing pulsar timing arrays and space-borne detection, before concentrating on ground-based detectors and Advanced LIGO . While both pulsar timing arrays and space-borne detectors are most sensitive to the mergers of supermassive black holes, ground-based detectors are sensitive to stellar-mass systems. Binary neutron stars are anticipated to be the main source for Advanced LIGO , and I will discuss what we hope to learn from these observations; in particular, the expected accuracy of mass and position measurements in 2015. The latter is particularly important when searching for an electromagnetic counterpart to the gravitational-wave signal, which may help us understand the origins of short gamma-ray bursts. While mass measurements can be precise, position measurements have large uncertainties, which will make combining electromagnetic and gravitational-wave observations challenging.

This talk is part of the Cosmology Lunch series.

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