Director's Colloquium

We’ve done it: the first direct observation of gravitational radiation - waves in spacetime

Professor David McClelland
Department of Quantum Science, Research School of Physics and Engineering

In the first RSPE Directors Colloquium of 2016 we will hear how scientists from the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) including a team from the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering made the world's first detection of gravitational waves. The detection of gravitational waves confirms a prediction made by Albert Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity 100 years ago.


On September 14, 2015, the two detectors of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO), recorded the first direct detection of gravitational waves – ripples in curvature of spacetime predicted from Einstein’s general theory of relativity. Analysis of the signal shows that it came from the collision and merger of a pair of black holes – the first ever observation of such a system.   The peak gravitational-wave power radiated during the final moments of the black hole merger was more than ten times greater than the combined light power from all the stars and galaxies in the observable Universe. This remarkable discovery marks the beginning of an exciting new era of astronomy as we open an entirely new window on the Universe.

In this talk we will describe the instruments used to record the signal, how we know the signal is extra-terrestrial, how we extract information about the source from the data and what the result tell us about general relativity and astrophysics. 

David McClelland is Professor of Physics and Director of the ANU Centre for Gravitational Physics.  He has been working in the field of gravitational wave detection for 25 years. He is the Leader of the Australian Partnership in Advanced LIGO.


Please note that seats are limited and will be secured on a first come first served basis.
Refreshments will be provided from 11.30am in the auditorium of The Australian Centre on China in the World

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Updated:  15 January 2019/ Responsible Officer:  Director, RSPE/ Page Contact:  Physics Webmaster