Meeting Information

LIGO-Virgo Gravitational-Wave Findings So Far, and Current Events

February 19, 2020
American Center for Physics
College Park, MD

Date: February 19, 2020 
Speaker: Peter Shawhan, Department of Physics, University of Maryland
Topic: LIGO-Virgo Gravitational-Wave Findings So Far, and Current Events
Time and Location: 1:00 p.m., at the American Center for Physics (, 1 Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD — off River Rd., between Kenilworth Ave. and Paint Branch Parkway. The talk will be in Conference Room C.

Abstract: The first two observing runs of the Advanced LIGO and Advanced Virgo detectors, in 2015-2017, yielded 11 confidently-detected gravitational-wave events. Careful analysis of these events has provided insights about short gamma-ray bursts, enabled tests of general relativity, measured the Hubble Constant, and given an initial picture of the population of compact binary systems. I will summarize several of the findings published by the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC) and Virgo Collaboration from that event sample and then go on to describe the event candidates detected so far in the O3 observing run, which is now in progress. Over 40 candidate events have been identified in O3 data and shared with the astronomical community so far, including at least one binary neutron star merger.  The O3 run promises to significantly improve our understanding of the population of merging compact binaries and the fundamental physics and astrophysics we can infer from them.

Biography: Peter Shawhan is a Professor in the University of Maryland Department of Physics, where he has been on the faculty since 2006. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and then spent 7 years at Caltech as a Postdoctoral Fellow and Staff Scientist before moving to Maryland. Dr. Shawhan has made gravitational wave detection his primary research focus since 1999 and has held numerous leadership positions within the LIGO Scientific Collaboration.  He currently serves as Data Analysis Coordinator for LIGO and is a member of the LSC Executive Committee.

Shawhan received the Richard A. Ferrell Distinguished Faculty Fellowship from the UMD Dept. of Physics in 2016, and received both the University System of Maryland Board of Regents’ Faculty Award for Excellence in Scholarship, Research, or Creative Activity and the Kirwan Faculty Research and Scholarship Prize in 2018 for his contributions to LIGO's breakthrough discoveries of gravitational waves and the development of multi-messenger astronomy.