The astrophysics we can do with LIGO - exploring the apparent black hole mass gap and hunting for electromagnetic counterparts



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Recording Details

Speaker(s): 
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PIRSA Number: 
17030014

Abstract

In 2015 the LIGO detectors observed gravitational waves from two distinct stellar-mass binary black hole mergers. This long awaited feat now opens avenues to explore astrophysical questions which cannot, or are difficult to, be answered purely by electromagnetic means. Massive stars which end their lives in a pair-instability supernova are not thought to leave a remnant behind, meaning there should exist a gap in the black hole mass spectrum. In this talk I will discuss whether LIGO observations can tell us something about this apparent mass gap. 

LIGO is currently operating in its second science run, and like its first, alerts are sent to electromagnetic partners whenever a candidate event is identified. I will also discuss the efforts being made to capture the signature of an electromagnetic counterpart, some of the facilities involved and the hurdles which need to be overcome to make a confident association between a gravitational-wave signal and an electromagnetic transient.