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Gravitational Waves: A New Astronomy


Luc Blanchet
Contemporary astronomy is undergoing a revolution, perhaps even more important than that which took place with the advent of radioastronomy in the 1960s, and then the opening of the sky to observations in the other electromagnetic wavelengths. The gravitational wave detectors of the LIGO/Virgo collaboration have observed since 2015 the signals emitted during the collision and merger of binary systems of massive black holes at a large astronomical distance. This major discovery opens the way to the new astronomy of gravitational waves, drastically different from the traditional astronomy based on electromagnetic waves. More recently, in 2017, the detection of gravitational waves emitted by the inspiral and merger of a binary system of neutron stars has been followed by electromagnetic signals observed by the γ and X satellites, and by optical telescopes. A harvest of discoveries has been possible thanks to the multi-messenger astronomy, which combines the information from the gravitational wave with that from electromagnetic waves. Another important aspect of the new gravitational astronomy concerns fundamental physics, with the tests of general relativity and alternative theories of gravitation, as well as the standard model of cosmology.
Read more at https://arxiv.org/pdf/1805.08563.pdf

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Lets Talk About Black Hole Singularities

Abraham Loeb
Does the collision of black hole singularities imprint an observable quantum signature on the resulting gravitational wave signal?

The singularities at the centers of astrophysical black holes mark the breakdown of Einstein’s theory of gravity, General Relativity. They represent the only breakdown sites accessible to experimentalists, since the other known singularity, the Big Bang,is believed to be invisible due to the vast expansion that occurred afterwards during cosmic inflation…
Read more https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1805/1805.05865.pdf

A short walk through the physics of neutron stars

A schematic cross section of a neutron star illustrating the various regions discussed in the text. The different regions shown are not drawn on scale.

Isaac Vidana
In this work we shortly review several aspects of the physics of neutron stars. After the introduction we present a brief historical overview of the idea of neutron stars as well as of the theoretical and observational developments that followed it from the mid 1930s to the present. Then, we review few aspects of their observation discussing, in particular, the different types of telescopes that are used, the many astrophysical manifestations of these objects, and several observables such as masses, radii or gravitational waves. Finally, we briefly summarize some of theoretical issues like their composition, structure equations, equation of state, and neutrino emission and cooling.
read more at https://arxiv.org/pdf/1805.00837.pdf

Neutrino Astronomy with IceCube and Beyond

Kevin J. Meagher on behalf of the IceCube Collaboration
The IceCube Neutrino Observatory is a cubic kilometer neutrino telescope located at the geographic South Pole. Cherenkov radiation emitted by charged secondary particles from neutrino interactions is observed by IceCube using an array of 5160 photomultiplier tubes embedded between a depth of 1.5 km to 2.5 km in the Antarctic glacial ice. The detection of astrophysical neutrinos is a primary goal of IceCube and has now been realized with the discovery of a diffuse, high-energy flux consisting of neutrino events from tens of TeV up to several PeV. Many analyses have been performed to identify the source of these neutrinos, including correlations with active galactic nuclei, gamma-ray bursts, and the Galactic plane. IceCube also conducts multi-messenger campaigns to alert other observatories of possible neutrino transients in real time. However, the source of these neutrinos remains elusive as no corresponding electromagnetic counterparts have been identified. This proceeding will give an overview of the detection principles of IceCube, the properties of the observed astrophysical neutrinos, the search for corresponding sources (including real-time searches), and plans for a next-generation neutrino detector, IceCube-Gen2.
Read more at https://arxiv.org/pdf/1705.00383.pdf

Fast Radio Bursts from Extragalactic Light Sails

Manasvi Lingam, Abraham Loeb
We examine the possibility that Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) originate from the activity of extragalactic civilizations.
Our analysis shows that beams used for powering large light sails could yield parameters that are consistent with FRBs.
The characteristic diameter of the beam emitter is estimated through a combination of energetic and engineering constraints, and both approaches intriguingly yield a similar result which is on the scale of a large rocky planet.
Moreover, the optimal frequency for powering the light sail is shown to be similar to the detected FRB frequencies. These `coincidences’ lend some credence to the possibility that FRBs might be artificial in origin.
Other relevant quantities, such as the characteristic mass of the light sail, and the angular velocity of the beam, are also derived.
By using the FRB occurrence rate, we infer upper bounds on the rate of FRBs from extragalactic civilizations in a typical galaxy.
The possibility of detecting fainter signals is briefly discussed, and the wait time for an exceptionally bright FRB event in the Milky Way is estimated.
Read more at https://arxiv.org/pdf/1701.01109.pdf