Astrophysicist on National Science Foundation Panel for Announcement

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October 12, 2017

Scientists representing LIGO, Virgo and some 70 observatories will reveal new details and discoveries made in the ongoing search for gravitational waves.

WHAT: Alessandra Corsi, an assistant professor in the Texas Tech University Department of Physics & Astronomy, will appear on one of two National Science Foundation (NSF) panels for a major announcement next week.

Journalists are invited to join the NSF as it brings together scientists from the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) and Virgo collaborations, as well as representatives for some 70 observatories.

The gathering will begin with an overview of new findings from LIGO, Virgo and partners that span the globe, followed by details from telescopes that work with the LIGO and Virgo Collaboration to study extreme events in the cosmos.

The first detection of gravitational waves, made on Sept. 14, 2015, and announced on Feb. 11, 2016, was a milestone in physics and astronomy; it confirmed a major prediction of Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity and marked the beginning of the new field of gravitational-wave astronomy. Since then, there have been three more confirmed detections, one of which (and the most recently announced) was the first confirmed detection seen jointly by both the LIGO and Virgo detectors.

The published articles announcing LIGO-Virgo’s first, second and third confirmed detections have been cited more than 1,700 times, according to the Web of Science citation counts. A fourth paper on the three-detector observation was published on Oct. 6; a manuscript was made publicly available on Sept. 27.

WHEN: Monday (Oct. 16). Panels will begin at 10 a.m. ET and 11:15 a.m. ET, with a 15-minute break between. The event is expected to conclude by 12:30 p.m. ET.

WHERE: National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

The event will be broadcast live online. Details will be posted on the Virgo website when they become available.

WHO: The following researchers will offer brief opening remarks over the course of two panels, with time for questions at the end of each panel:

10 a.m. ET

Moderator: France Córdova, director of the National Science Foundation

  • David Reitze, executive director, LIGO Laboratory/California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
  • David Shoemaker, spokesperson, LIGO Scientific Collaboration/Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • Jo van den Brand, spokesperson, Virgo Collaboration/Nikhef, VU University Amsterdam
  • Julie McEnery, Fermi Project scientist, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
  • Marica Branchesi, Virgo Collaboration/Gran Sasso Science Institute, Italy
  • Vicky Kalogera, astrophysicist, LIGO Scientific Collaboration/Northwestern University

11:15 a.m. ET

Moderator: Jim Ulvestad, NSF assistant director (acting) for Mathematical and Physical Sciences

  • Laura Cadonati, deputy spokesperson, LIGO Scientific Collaboration/Georgia Tech
  • Andy Howell, staff scientist at Las Cumbres Observatory/UC-Santa Barbara
  • Ryan Foley, assistant professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of California-Santa Cruz
  • Marcelle Soares-Santos, research associate, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory/Brandeis University
  • David Sand, assistant professor in astronomy, University of Arizona and formerly of Texas Tech
  • Nial Tanvir, professor of astrophysics, University of Leicester, United Kingdom
  • Edo Berger, professor of astronomy, Harvard University
  • Eleonora Troja, research scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/University of Maryland
  • Alessandra Corsi, assistant professor, Department of Physics & Astronomy, Texas Tech

About LIGO and Virgo

The Virgo collaboration consists of more than 280 physicists and engineers belonging to 20 different European research groups: six from Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in France; eight from the Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN) in Italy; two in the Netherlands with Nikhef; the MTA Wigner RCP in Hungary; the POLGRAW group in Poland; Spain with the University of Valencia; and the European Gravitational Observatory, EGO, the laboratory hosting the Virgo detector near Pisa in Italy, funded by CNRS, INFN and Nikhef.

LIGO is funded by the NSF  and operated by Caltech and MIT, which conceived of LIGO and led the Initial and Advanced LIGO projects. Financial support for the Advanced LIGO project was led by the NSF with Germany (Max Planck Society), the U.K. (Science and Technology Facilities Council) and Australia (Australian Research Council) making significant commitments and contributions to the project. More than 1,200 scientists from around the world participate in the effort through the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, which includes the GEO Collaboration. Additional partners are listed at http://ligo.org/partners.php.

CONTACT: Glenys Young, senior editor, Office of Communication and Marketing, Texas Tech University, (806) 742-2136 or glenys.young@ttu.edu


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