8th Dvořák lecture
Prof. Marco Cavaglià: GRAVITATIONAL-WAVE ASTROPHYSICS
Assistant Spokesperson of the LIGO Collaboration
In 1916 Albert Einstein demonstrated that the theory of General Relativity allows for wave-like, space time perturbations propagating with the speed of light. Two years later, he calculated his famous quadrupole formula, describing how these "gravitational" waves can be generated. However, due to the extreme weakness of gravity, detecting gravitational waves seemed an impossible task. They even became a matter of controversy with Einstein himself becoming convinced they did not exist. The long quest to detect gravitational waves finally ended on February 11, 2016, when scientists from the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) Scientific Collaboration and the Virgo Collaboration announced the first detection of a gravitational-wave signal from a merger of two stellar mass black holes. LIGO's observation marks the beginning of gravitational-wave astrophysics, a new way to explore the sky which will deepen our understanding of the cosmos and lead to unexpected discoveries. Further improvement in LIGO's sensitivity planned for the next observing runs will produce hundreds of detections in the next years, allowing scientists to map the dark, gravitational universe.
Invitation letter with more details