Gravitational Waves – behind the scenes

I had the honour to interview David Reitze, one of the leaders in gravitational wave physics, when he visited Canberra earlier this year.

Bit surprised he wasn’t one of the Nobel laureates… but anyway, ahead of the exciting announcement tomorrow, (what have they found this time?!),  here’s the interview.

 

And for those who just want the highlights:

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Shooting Star collides with star

I wrote this as a writing test in a job interview for CSIRO. Thought it was OK – but i didn’t get the job….

—–compact_binary_systems

Have you ever wondered what would happen if a shooting star collided with a star? Well, scientists at CSIRO think they have discovered just that! Unfortunately the collision is too far away to see, but the scientists have discovered that Star PSR J0738-4042 is bombarded – regularly!

Shooting stars are actually pieces of spacerock that burn up as they fall into our atmosphere. Spacerocks are falling into PSR J0738-4042 as a result of it exploding in the past, flinging out debris that is now falling back in on itself.

In the explosion the star became a pulsar that shoots out radio waves as it spins, at nearly three turns per second. The falling debris gets zapped by the radio waves, turning it into plasma, which then affects the star’s regular pulses. By measuring changes in the pulses the scientists calculated the mass of one of the rocks at around a billion tonnes!