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The Dawn of Multi-Messenger Astrophysics


Artist's impression of two neutron stars colliding, known as a "kilonova" event. Credits: Elizabeth Wheatley (STScI)

Speaker: Dr Samantha Oates, University of Birmingham

Throughout most of human history, our understanding of the night sky has come from observations in the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum; the light that our eyes are sensitive to. It is only within the last 100 years that technology has enabled us to view the universe across the electromagnetic spectrum, from gamma-rays through to the radio. However, electromagnetic light isn't the only signal being produced by the universe. Within the last few decades, technology has become sensitive enough to directly detect non-photonic signals, specifically gravitational waves and neutrinos. These signals have revolutionised the way we study astrophysical phenomena, providing direct insight into the very centres of astrophysical objects, which are usually hidden from electromagnetic observers. By combining information from gravitational waves, neutrinos and electromagnetic light - multi-messenger astrophysics - we can obtain a much more complete understanding of the physics of these objects and how they evolve throughout their lifetime.

In this talk, Dr Oates will introduce multi-messenger astronomy, focusing on gravitational waves and their electromagnetic follow-up and will describe how this follow-up is performed, what we have learnt from observations so far and what we hope to discover and understand.

Image: Artist's impression of two neutron stars colliding, known as a "kilonova" event. Credits: Elizabeth Wheatley (STScI)

There is no requirement to pre-register for this event. It is requested that if you feel unwell or have symptoms of COVID, you do not attend. Mask wearing is encouraged but not mandatory. Doors to the Large Lecture Theatre will be open from 7pm and refreshments will be available. The talk begins at 7.30pm.