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Center for Fundamental Theory Center for Theoretical and Observational Cosmology Center for Multimessenger Astrophysics

The Institute for Gravitation and the Cosmos is a multidisciplinary institute of Penn State researchers dedicated to the study of the most fundamental structure and constituents of the Universe.

News and Events

  • LIGO-Virgo finds mystery object in 'mass gap'
    On August 14, 2019, the two Advanced LIGO detectors in the US, at Hanford, Washington and Livingston, Louisiana, and the Advanced Virgo detector in Cascina, Italy, observed a gravitational wave signal produced by the inspiral and merger of two compact objects -- one, a black hole, and the other of undetermined nature. The mass measured for the lighter compact object makes it either the lightest black hole or the heaviest neutron star ever discovered in a system of two compact objects, but we can’t be sure which it is. This is also the most asymmetric system observed in gravitational waves as of now. This event was detected in real time by the GstLAL inspiral pipeline which is developed and operated largely by the LIGO group at Penn State. See Full Article

  • In support and solidarity with the Black community and #Strike4BlackLives, and to commit to eradicating systemic racism and discrimination especially in academia and science, IGC organized a Zoom meeting on Wednesday, June10th 2020. We had some 137 participants, also from the Physics and Astronomy & Astrophysics Departments and MERSEC at Penn State, and a few from other institutions. The discussion was led by Dr. Stephon Alexander, Professor of Physics at Brown University, who is the current President of the National Association for Black Physicists. Stephon has had close associations with IGC from the time he began his faculty career at Penn State 15 years ago. While we had benefited by reading thoughtful articles and dialogs on the subject prior to the meeting, Stephon's comments, questions and suggestions provided direct insight into the issues that are central to the thinking of leadership in the Black academic community. IGC will continue the dialog both among ourselves and also with the members of this community for ongoing improvement. Thank you, Stephon!
    Watch Meeting

  • Cambridge University Press has released a paperback edition of "General Relativity and Gravitation: A Centennial Perspective". This volume was commissioned by the International Society on General Relativity and Gravitation and is edited by A.Ashtekar(Editor in Chief), Beverly Berger, James Isenberg and Malcolm MacCallum. It contains 12 Chapters written by leading international experts that provide overviews of the spectacular advances that have occurred in the field over the past three decades or so. The material is divided into 4 parts: I. Einstein's Triumph; II. Was Einstein right? A Centenary Assessment; III. Gravity is Geometry, Afterall; and IV. Beyond Einstein, each with a detailed general introduction written by the Editors. This volume should be an excellent resource both for graduate students as well as experienced researchers in cosmology, general relativity, gravitational waves, and quantum aspects of gravity.
    Flier describing the volume and offering a 20% discount till May 2021. PDF file

  • Gravitational waves detected on April 25, 2019, by the LIGO Livingston Observatory were likely produced by a collision of two neutron stars, according to a new study by an international team including Penn State researchers. IGC members Patrick Godwin, Ryan Magee, B. Sathyaprakash and Surabhi Suchdev explain why this discovery is so exciting. See Full Article

  • Eberly College of Science 2020 Frontiers of Science Lecture Series entitled "Predicting the Future Improving Lives and Communities through Modeling" The series will consist of 6 public lectures, held on consecutive Saturdays in 101 Thomas Building at the University Park Campus.

    January 18: "Statistics and the future of the Antarctic ice sheet," Murali Haran (Statistics, Penn State)

    January 25: "Predicting the future of plant diversity: New applications for digitized herbarium data," Pamela Soltis (Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida)

    February 1: "Understanding wildlife connectivity and disease spread through GPS tracking," Ephraim Hanks (Statistics, Penn State)

    February 8: "Characterizing potentially habitable planets," Eric Ford (Astronomy and Astrophysics, Penn State)

    February 15: "Disease outbreak control: Harnessing the power of multiple models to work smarter, not harder," Katriona Shea (Ecology, Penn State)

    February 22: "Predicting Mutation and Disease Occurrence from DNA and Omics Data," Kateryna Makova (Biology, Penn State)
  • Galactic gamma-ray sources revel birthplaces of high-energy particles (Mostafa) - January 2020
    See Full Article
  • Emily Rolfe Grosholz, Edwin Earle Sparks Professor and member of the Institute for Gravitation and the Cosmos, will offer a poetry reading on Thursday, January 30 at 7:30 PM in the Paterno Library's Foster Auditorium. Dr. Grosholz's most recent collections The Stars of Earth: New and Selected Poems(2017) and Great Circles: The Transits of Mathematics and Poetry (2018) "showcase her larger interests in the intersections between philosophy, mathematics, science and language."
  • Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory’s LIGO) Livingston detector has made a lone discovery of what could possibly be a binary neutron star collision. This detection was made possible by the GSTLAL online software developed by faculty and postdocs at the Institute for Gravitation and the Cosmos. The total mass of the binary is significantly larger than all such systems we know in our galaxy and challenging astrophysical models of the formation of binary black holes. Full article
  • Penn State's Bianchi, Gupta and Sathyaprakash were coauthors of a paper that was awarded second prize of the annual Buchalter Cosmology prize announced at the AAS meeting in Hawaii in early January. The prize recognizes their work on the possible origin of LIGO's black holes in the very early Universe, offering quantum origin of their small spins. Full article
  • IGC’s Rachael Huxford was co-author of one of the most-read publications in The Physics Teacher of the American Association of Physics Teachers. The paper describes a demonstration on classroom simulation of gravitational waves from orbiting binaries. Popular demonstrations commonly use stretched spandex fabric to illustrate the way in which curved spacetime mimics the force of gravity in general relativity. In this spirt, Huxford and co-authors used a similar mode to illustrate gravitational waves from orbiting binaries, whose discovery was recognized with the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics. They developed a simple and inexpensive demonstration which produces the pattern of outgoing spiral ripples that has entered the public imagination through images from numerical simulations. Full article

IGC Video

The Institute for Gravitation and the Cosmos (IGC) is dedicated to fostering the highest quality education and research in cosmology, general relativity, gravitational wave astronomy, particle astrophysics, quantum gravity and string theory, focusing on the highest energy phenomena and fundamental issues in the science of the cosmos.

Please take a few minutes to view an informational video on research conducted at IGC.



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