Thu30Jan20204:00 pmLewis Hall 101
Colloquium: Advancing the Capabilities of Nanohertz Gravitational Wave Astronomy
Department of Physics and Astronomy
West Virginia University
Advancing the Capabilities of Nanohertz Gravitational Wave Astronomy
After fifteen years of ongoing effort to precisely monitor the most stable millisecond pulsars known, the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves (NANOGrav) is poised, within the next five years, to detect gravitational waves (GWs) in an entirely unexplored range of frequencies. The initial detection will be just the beginning of a sustained campaign to characterize the nanohertz GW sky. I will discuss important fundamental features of the astrophysics underpinning and motivating NANOGrav's efforts and certain unavoidable shortcomings of pulsar timing array investigations. I have a plan to ameliorate these shortcomings by synthesizing pulsar timing data and precise astrometric surveys from instruments such as the Gaia space telescope, a program that could powerfully augment both the imminent and long-term scientific returns of nanohertz GW astronomy. Finally, I will discuss a new and interesting way that astrometric measurements could enable the detection of GW memory, a theoretically important signal sought after by GW astronomers across the frequency spectrum.