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Physics & Astronomy seminar: A Chorus of ‘Cosmic Messengers’ Heralds a New Era of Astrophysics
December 2, 2019 @ 1:30 pm
Dr. John Ruan,
McGill University & McGill Space Institute
The 2017 discovery of the binary neutron star merger GW170817 through both gravitational waves (using laser interferometers) and light (using telescopes) marked the dawn of a new era of multi-messenger astrophysics. Our new ability to detect and study individual astronomical sources through both these ‘cosmic messengers’ now enables novel probes into a diverse array of fundamental questions in astrophysics. I will discuss the rich insights provided by multi-messenger observations of GW170817, including (1) the origin of the heaviest elements through observations of the associated kilonova, (2) the nature of short Gamma-ray bursts through observations of the X-ray/radio emission, and (3) the expansion rate of the Universe through the use of gravitational waves as standard sirens. However, these breakthroughs have also unearthed a plethora of new questions, thus motivating additional multi-messenger observations of new compact object mergers. I will discuss the unique challenges that we will face in this exciting endeavor over the next decade, and how next-generation Canadian telescope facilities will play a leading role in the next landmark discoveries.
This talk is part of an interview for a Tier II Canada Research Chair position in multi-messenger astrophysics.