20 September 2016, Tuesday, 7:45 PM, Presidio Observation Post, Building 211
“Spacetime Symphony: Gravitational Waves From Merging Black Holes”
Lynn Cominsky, Chair, Physics & Astronomy, Sonoma State University
In September 2015, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detected the first gravitational wave signals. The event represents the coalescence of two distinct black holes that were previously in mutual orbit. LIGO’s exciting discovery provides direct evidence of what is arguably the last major unconfirmed prediction of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity and has launched the new field of gravitational wave astronomy.
Professor Cominsky will report on these recent observations and discuss the merging Black Hole binary system that created these waves.
Lynn Cominsky has been on the faculty at Sonoma State University for over 30 years and is Chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy. She is a NASA Fermi Astrophysicist with decades of research experience, and Fermi Press Officer for Education and Public Outreach. She has been a Guest Investigator on many X-ray and Gamma-Ray satellite experiments, analyzing data on Neutron Star binaries and X-ray Bursts.
Prof. Cominsky was named SSU’s Outstanding Professor and later named a Fellow of the California Council on Science and Technology, a Fellow of the American Physical Society and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Recent awards include the 2014 Aerospace Awareness award from the Women in Aerospace organization, the 2015 Sally Ride Education Award from the American Astronautical Society, the 2016 Education Prize from the American Astronomical Society and the 2016 Wang Family Excellence Award.