The Department of Physics & Astronomy hosts guest speaker Sarah J. Vigeland, assistant professor of physics at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's Center for Gravitation, Cosmology and Astrophysics. Her presentation will be on the topic of ‘‘Merging Galaxies and Supermassive Black Holes: Detecting Gravitational Waves with Pulsar Timing Arrays.’’
For more than a decade, pulsar timing arrays (PTAs) have been using millisecond pulsars to search for low-frequency gravitational waves (GWs) from supermassive black hole binaries in distant galaxies. PTAs are sensitive to individual SMBHBs, as well as the gravitational wave “hum” produced by the sum of all SMBHBs. I will discuss how PTAs detect gravitational waves, and give the current status of the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves (NANOGrav) PTA.