2010 programme

Sun 11:00-12:00

Listening to the Universe with Gravitational Waves

Dr Daniel Shaddock

Australian National University, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA

Practically all observations of the universe use some form of electromagnetic radiation. Only recently has a new window on the universe been opened, using a completely different type of radiation: gravitational waves. These gravitational waves, first predicted by Einstein, propagate at the speed of light as ripples in the curvature of space-time. Rather than looking at the universe, gravitational wave astronomy is more akin to listening to universe. Although they are yet to be directly detected, gravitational waves are expected to carry a wealth of information that has the potential to unlock secrets of the universe in the same way that seismic monitoring has revealed the structure of the Earth's interior. Scientists hope to gather this information with the new global network of gravitational wave detectors, as well as with the upcoming NASA/ESA mission LISA. LISA, for Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, will be a gravitational wave observatory in orbit around the sun that will be sensitive enough to hear signals from practically anywhere in the known universe. This talk will give an overview of gravitational wave astronomy and provide a tutorial on the technology of a gravitational wave detector.

Package icon Gravity Waves presentation (52MB ZIP)52.41 MB