Astro Night

Thu, May 03, 2018

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Speaker: Alex Filippenko (Berkeley)

Title:  “Einstein Triumphs: The Magnificent Detection of Gravitational Waves”


Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity predicts the existence of ripples in the fabric of space-time. In the past few years, such gravitational waves have been detected from several pairs of merging black holes, an incredible technical feat requiring by far the most precise measurements ever made. And on October 16, 2017, astrophysicists announced the detection of a merging pair of neutron stars with both gravitational waves and light! This cosmic collision produced a gamma-ray burst, gold and other precious metals, and probably a black hole. Come learn about gravitational waves and the emergence of "multi-messenger astronomy."


Alex Filippenko, an elected member of both the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, is one of the world's most highly cited astronomers and the recipient of numerous prizes for his scientific research. He was the only person to have been a member of both teams that revealed the Nobel-worthy accelerating expansion of the Universe. Voted the “Best Professor” on campus a record 9 times, he was named the National Professor of the Year in 2006. He has produced 5 astronomy video courses with The Great Courses, coauthored an award-winning astronomy textbook, and appears in more than 100 television documentaries. He is addicted to observing total solar eclipses throughout the globe, having seen 16 so far.