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Gravitational Waves - Seminar

Monday, October 16, 2017 - 3:00pm
Physical Sciences Complex Lobby

Join us for a seminar that will broadly highlight the scientific implications of the important new discoveries in the ongoing search for gravitation waves that were announced during a press conference at 10 a.m. This discussion will be hosted by the Joint Space-Science Institute and will include speakers from the Department of Physics, Department of Astronomy and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. 


  • Peter Shawhan is a UMD professor of physics and a LIGO principal investigator. He helped establish a program to quickly share information with astronomers about gravitational wave event candidates, including sky location. This program enables astronomers to look for events with their telescopes and other instruments. Shawhan will also attend the 10 a.m. news conference at the National Press Club.
  • Julie McEnery is an adjunct associate professor in the UMD Department of Physics, astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope project scientist. McEnery will also speak at the 10 a.m. news conference at the National Press Club.
  • Brad Cenko is an adjunct assistant professor in the UMD Department of Astronomy and a research astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. He is also deputy project scientist for the Swift Gamma-ray Burst Mission.
  • Coleman Miller is a UMD professor of astronomy whose research focuses on the theory and modeling of high-energy radiation from neutron stars and black holes.

(You can also join us at 10 a.m. in the Physical Sciences Complex lobby as we watch live the press conference. Scientists (including some from UMD) representing the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), Virgo, and some 70 observatories will speak during the press conference, which 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 Collaborations to study extreme events in the cosmos. More on the press conference:

The first detection of gravitational waves, made on September 14, 2015, and announced on February 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. For more information on gravitational wave astronomy at UMD, visit