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Matter and Electromagnetic Fields in Strong Gravity

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Darkness and light: Status of LIGO and Virgo searches for black hole mergers and other signals

Peter Shawhan

University of Maryland


Abstract:   The LIGO and Virgo gravitational-wave detectors are now collecting data and searching it for signatures of black hole mergers and various other signals. The data is being analyzed using matched filtering and also using "burst search" methods which do not rely on knowledge of the waveform; each of these is found to perform best over a certain range of black hole masses. We are also preparing to seek electromagnetic counterparts to gravitational-wave event candidates proactively, through special arrangements with wide-field robotic telescopes on the Earth and with the Swift satellite to capture prompt follow-up images of the sky locations suggested by the gravitational-wave data. I will discuss some of the challenges and the status of this project.

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