|Speaker||Talk Date||Talk Series|
|Ilya Mandel (Birmingham)||7 February, 2013||Institute of Astronomy Colloquia|
The first direct detection of gravitational waves from mergers of black holes and neutron stars by ground-based interferometric detectors LIGO and Virgo are anticipated in the next 5 years. They will provide us with a new probe on the Universe and enable us explore compact-binary astrophysics and strong-field general relativity. In this talk, I review the current
knowledge of the coalescence rates and parameter distributions of merging neutron-star and black-hole binaries and the data-analysis challenges associated with finding their signatures in noisy data. I emphasize the bi-directional connection between gravitational-wave astronomy and conventional astrophysics. I report on ongoing efforts to develop a framework for converting gravitational-wave observations into improved constraints on astrophysical parameters and discuss future developments necessary to the success of gravitational-wave astronomy. I also highlight some exciting recent investigations into the use of gravitational waves as probes of cosmology and tests of general relativity.