The Awesome Start of Gravitational Wave Astronomy

  • Date April 4, 2016
  • Hour 3 pm
  • Room GSSI Main Lecture Hall
  • Speaker Bernard F. Schutz (Cardiff University and Albert Einstein Institute)


When the two LIGO interferometers detected, on 14 September last year, a burst of gravitational waves so strong that there was no doubt that it came from an extraterrestrial source, the new field of gravitational wave astronomy started with a spectacular bang. Spectacular, because the source was the inspiral and merger of two unexpectedly heavy black holes, so that this was not only our first direct detection of gravitational waves, but also our first direct observation of black holes. Spectacular, because the merger event was more luminous at that moment than the entire rest of the Universe added together. Spectacular, because a field that had laboured in quiet obscurity for 40 years suddenly produced the science event of the decade. I will review the science of gravitational waves and their detection, discuss what we have already learned from GW150914, and speculate on what is yet to come from this infant science.



Bernard F. Schutz is Director of the Data Innovation Institute at Cardiff University, Wales, and Emeritus Director of the Albert Einstein Institute at Potsdam, Germany). Born on August 11, 1946 in Paterson (New Jersey/USA). Study of physics at Clarkson University (1964-1967), doctorate at the California Institute of Technology (1972), postdoc at Cambridge University and Yale University (1972-73), lecturer (1974), reader (1976), Professor at Cardiff University, Wales/UK (1986; since 1995 part-time), Director and Scientific Member at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute) (from 1995 until October 2013), Honorary Professor at Potsdam University and Hannover University. As from October 1, 2014 emeritus.


You can follow the live streaming of the seminar at