Strong Gravity

This series consists of talks in areas where gravity is the main driver behind interesting or peculiar phenomena, from astrophysics to gravity in higher dimensions.

Seminar Series Events/Videos

 

Thursday Mar 26, 2020
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With the impressive number of binary black hole mergers observed by the LIGO-Virgo detector network in the recent years, it is now important to understand the formation channels of these systems. This talk focuses on the common envelope phase, crucial to the formation of compact object binaries. During this phase, the two companions evolve inside a shared envelope, with the secondary object orbiting towards the core of the primary star. Drag forces in the stellar envelope pull the two stellar cores into a tighter orbit.

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Thursday Mar 19, 2020
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Observations have shown that nearly all galaxies harbor massive or supermassive black holes at their centers. Gravitational wave (GW) observations of these black holes will shed light on their growth and evolution, and the merger histories of galaxies. Massive and supermassive black holes are also ideal  laboratories for studying strong-field gravity. Pulsar timing arrays (PTAs) use observations of millisecond pulsars to detect low-frequency GWs with frequencies ~1-100 nHz, and can detect GWs emitted by supermassive black hole binaries, which form when two galaxies merge.

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Thursday Jan 16, 2020
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Recent observations of gravitational waves represent a remarkable success of our theoretical models of relativistic binaries. However, accurate models are largely restricted to binaries in which the two members have roughly equal masses; for binaries with more disparate masses, modelling is less mature. This is especially relevant for extreme-mass-ratio inspirals (EMRIs), in which a stellar-mass object orbits a supermassive black hole in a galactic core. EMRIs are uniquely precise probes of black hole spacetimes, and they will be key targets for the space-based detector LISA.

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Thursday Dec 12, 2019
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Merging compact objects encode a vast deal of information about their progenitor stellar systems, such as the types of galactic environments they were born in, the intricacies of stellar evolution the persisted throughout their lives, and the physics of the supernovae that marked their deaths. In this talk, I will highlight multiple open questions that can be illuminated through a combination of compact objects observations (via gravitational waves and/or electromagnetic radiation) and computational modeling of environments that lead to the formation of black holes and neutron stars.

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Thursday Nov 28, 2019
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With the detection of GW170817 we have observed the first multi messenger signal from two merging neutron stars. This signal carried a multitude of information about the underlying equation of state (EOS) of nuclear matter, which so far is not known for densities above nuclear saturation. In particular it is not known if exotic states or even a phase transition to quark matter can occur at densities so extreme that they can't be probed by any current experiment.

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Thursday Nov 21, 2019
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We present a plausible counterexample to the weak cosmic censorship conjecture in four-dimensional Einstein-Scalar theory with asymptotically flat boundary conditions. Our setup stems from the analysis of the massive Klein-Gordon equation on a fixed Kerr black hole background. In particular, we construct the quasinormal spectrum numerically, and analytically in the WKB approximation, then go on to compute its backreation on the Kerr geometry. In the regime of parameters where the analytic and numerical techniques overlap we find perfect agreement.

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Thursday Nov 07, 2019
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Simulations that numerically solve Einstein's equations are the only means to accurately predict the outcome of the merger of two black holes. The most important outputs from these simulations are the gravitational waveforms, and the mass and spin of the final black hole formed after the merger. The waveforms are used in extracting astrophysical information from detections, while the final mass and spin are used in testing general relativity. Unfortunately, these simulations are too expensive for direct use in data analysis; each simulation can take a month on a supercomputer.

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Thursday Oct 31, 2019
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Black holes in the background of the AdS soliton are, according to the gauge/gravity correspondence, dual to droplets of deconfined plasma surrounded by a confining vacuum. In this talk I will present, for the first time, the real time dynamics of finite energy black holes in these backgrounds. We consider horizonless initial data sourced by a massless scalar field. Upon time evolution, prompt scalar field collapse produces an excited black hole that eventually settles down to equilibrium at the bottom of the AdS soliton.

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Thursday Oct 17, 2019
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Thursday Oct 03, 2019
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Advanced LIGO and Advanced Virgo are currently in the middle of their third observing run, and releasing open public event alerts for the first time. The LIGO-Virgo collaboration has issued 29 un-retracted candidate event alerts as of September 20th, 2019, potentially adding dozens more known compact binary object mergers to the eleven confident LIGO-Virgo detections from the first two Advanced-era observing runs. I’ll review novel LIGO-Virgo results to date, and discuss the challenges of extracting interesting new physics from noisy detector data.

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