Gravitational wave astrophysics: a new era of discovery

 

Gravitational waves detected by LIGO

Chart shows the gravitational waves detected.
Courtesy Caltech/MIT/LIGO Laboratory

Dr. Jess McIver from LIGO Laboratory at Caltech will share her research in the area of gravitational waves; minuscule fluctuations in space-time from the most extreme phenomena in the Universe.



The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors sense gravitational waves; minuscule fluctuations in space-time from the most extreme phenomena in the Universe. The recent detection of gravitational waves from a neutron star merger and an associated electromagnetic counterpart was a breakthrough in multi-messenger astronomy. This discovery confirmed the association between neutron star mergers and short gamma-ray bursts (sGRBs), confirmed these events as major producers of heavy elements in the Universe, and yielded new insight into the physical engine driving sGRBs. Future gravitational wave observations have the potential to provide critical insight into key open questions in astrophysics, including the distribution of massive stellar remnants in the Universe, massive stellar evolution in binaries, galaxy formation, and the explosion mechanism of core-collapse supernovae.

Dr. Jess McIver

Dr. Jess McIver

Dr. Jess McIver is a postdoctoral scholar in experimental physics at the LIGO Laboratory at Caltech. Dr. McIver earned Bachelor's degrees in physics and journalism from Syracuse University, and her Master's and PhD in physics from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She contributed to the discovery of gravitational waves from black holes and neutron stars and she currently leads the Detector Characterization group in the LIGO Scientific Collaboration.