Gravitational waves provide a unique way to study the universe. From the initial direct detection of coalescing black holes in 2015, to the ground-breaking multimessenger observations of coalescing neutron stars in 2017, and continuing with the now routine detection of merging stellar remnants, gravitational wave astronomy has quickly matured into a key aspect of modern physics. After briefly discussing what we've begun to learn from the new gravitational-wave transient catalog published by the LIGO, Virgo, and KAGRA collaborations (GWTC-2), I will discuss novel tests of fundamental physics GWs enable. In particular, I will focus on our current understanding of matter effects during the inspiral of compact binaries and matter at supranuclear densities, including possible phase transitions, through tests of neutron star structure. Detailed knowledge of dynamical interactions between coalescing stars, observations of extreme relativistic astrophysical systems, terrestrial experiments, and nuclear theory provide complementary views of fundamental physics. I will show how combining aspects from all these will improve our understanding of dense matter through the example of how we can determine whether newly observed objects are neutron stars or black holes.



Talk Number PIRSA:20110041
Speaker Profile Reed Essick
Collection Colloquium