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Cosmology & Astrophysics Special Interest Group

  • 3026 SE Berkeley Place Portland OR 97202 (map)
10 millisecond offset due to light travel time between signals at Hanford, WA and Livingston, LA detectors.

10 millisecond offset due to light travel time between signals at Hanford, WA and Livingston, LA detectors.

We will be discussing this week's LIGO gravitational wave announcement and how it was accomplished at the next Rose City Astronomers Cosmology/Astrophysics Special Interest Group meeting on February 17, 2016.

About 1.3 billion years ago and 1.3 billion light-years away, two black holes spiraled together to form one larger black hole.  The catastrophe sent out powerful ripples in space-time at the speed of light.  In September of 2015, these ripples, stretching 4 kilometers of space less than the size of a proton, were detected by two advanced gravitational wave detectors (LIGO) in Hanford Washington and Livingston Louisiana. After studying the signals and accounting for all possible noise sources, scientists today announced the first confident detection of gravity waves which very closely match predictions by Einstein's theory of general relativity.  This opens up a the possibility of a whole new way of observing the universe, with something other than electromagnetic radiation (optical, x-ray, radio) telescopes. 

Technical paper here.
Article here.

The next meeting of the RCA Astrophysics/Cosmology Special Interest Group (SIG) will be:
Date: Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Time:  7:00 to 9:00 PM
Location: 3026 SE Berkeley Place, Portland OR 97202
The new Orange MAX line stops at about a 10 minute walk away, see map here.

  • Discuss the latest cosmology/astrophysics news and the following video lectures:
  • LIGO Researchers announcing discovery with explanatory animations and with Kip Thorne
  • Alex Filippenko's Lecture 7 "Gravitational Waves - Ripples in Space-Time" from Black Holes Explained
  • Questions and Answers to the best of everyone's abilities.

The purpose of this SIG is to inform, inspire, ask questions and keep up to date on current research and the state of our knowledge of the universe. All RCA members are welcome and encouraged to attend and participate in discussions on a wide variety of topics related to the formation and development of the universe.  A background or education in astrophysics or cosmology is not required to participate - just an interest in expanding your understanding of the universe observed by astronomers.

We will go over the latest cosmology/astrophysics news items since the last meeting. After the video lectures, we will have a discussion, if desired, about what was seen. If you have any questions about the SIG, a suggested topic or interest in making a presentation for a future meeting, please contact the SIG Coordinator:

Prior Cosmology/Astrophysics news can be found here. If you attend, I give away free copies of most of the Science and Nature journal issues that contained the news.  Plus, there are usually cookies and popcorn.

Viktors Berstis (SIG Coordinator)
   Web Site.

Please chime in on the discussion about possible future alternate times, day of week and locations for this meeting. Please note:  The next meeting after this one will be on March 23, 2016.

Earlier Event: February 15
First Quarter Moon
Later Event: February 20
Telescope Workshop SIG