SC 2016 Semilab: Physics of Gravitational Waves

by Sergei Dubovsky

This semilab will be offered in two versions, intermediate and advanced one

The last few years were very exciting for the physics of gravitational waves. Gravitational waves were predicted by Einstein 100 years ago, and were looked for observationally for around 50 years.

In February 2016 for the first time a gravitational wave signal from a merger of two black holes has been observed by the Advanced LIGO collaboration.

We will introduce the basic physics and math underlying both of these events, and discuss the future of this field. Even though an accurate description of the black hole merger requires the use of general relativity, as we discuss at the semilab many of its features can be understood using simple geometry and Newtonian mechanics.

As a part of this semilab we will also reproduce the black hole "chirp" heard by LIGO, using the available open data. To enjoy this semilab it is desirable to have some familiarity with basics of Newtonian mechanics and to be a fan of physics and math in general. For advanced version, familiarity with electromagnetism is also expected.

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