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Gravitational Waves and Cosmology

WVU astrophysicist part of team that detects gravitational waves from second pair of colliding black holes

For the second time in history, a team of astrophysicists – including Sean McWilliams at West Virginia University, has observed gravitational waves – ripples in the fabric of spacetime.

The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, or LIGO, research team detected these invisible ripples on Dec. 26, 2015.

“With this second event, we are really starting to map out the population of black hole binaries in the universe. This will have a tremendous impact on our astrophysical understanding of how massive stars evolve,” said McWilliams, assistant professor of physics and astronomy in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences.

McWilliams was part of a team of collaborators who performed some of the earliest supercomputer simulations of merging black holes. Since then he has worked extensively on simulating and developing models for these signals, which LIGO scientists expect to detect from across the universe.

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