Richard O'Shaughnessy - Research Associate
334D Whitmore Laboratory
Gravitational Wave Astronomy: Gamma Ray Bursts and Binary Systems of Neutron Stars and Black Holes
Gamma-ray bursts are the most energetic phenomena in the universe that we have directly observed. During their short lifetime they outshine in brightness their host galaxies many times over. The engine that powers these bursts is believed to involve the formation of a roughly stellar mass black hole, either from a hypernovae (the collapse of a massive star) or the coalescence of a binary system consisting of a neutron star and a black hole. In either case the black hole formation will also lead to a strong pulse of gravitational waves, which may be detectable with the next generation of ground-based gravitational wave detectors. From the gravitational wave burst associated with gamma-ray bursts we can learn about the black holes that have formed and the stars that led to their formation, which we cannot learn from the gamma-ray burst alone. My research is focused on what we can expect of the gravitational waves from binary systems of compact objects, like the progenitors of gamma- ray bursts, and what we can learn about these systems from gravitational wave observations either alone or in combination with observations made with more conventional detectors.
Video Credit: NASA