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Out of this world: LIU scientists speak of developments in gravitational-wave astronomy

Final frontiersmen: Christopher League, Matthew Lippert, Michael Kavik, and John Estes discuss new developments in gravitational-wave astronomy at LIU Brooklyn on Oct. 16.
for Brooklyn Paper
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This discovery is stellar!

A team of scientists and professors at Long Island University announced new developments in gravitational-wave astronomy during a panel at the school on Oct. 16. These findings are the mark of an exciting new era in astrophysics and are the result of an extensive international collaboration, according to a scientist at the school.

“There were over 70 different major astronomical observatories that collaborated together to observe this event and get the complete picture across the electromagnetic spectrum,” said Michael Kavic, a physics professor at LIU Brooklyn. “That kind of collaboration really is historic in its own sense.”

The collision of two neutron stars was first felt in August — right around the time of the solar eclipse — by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory detectors located in Louisiana and Washington and the Virgo detector near Pisa, Italy.

“Everyone was talking about the eclipse and what was, of course, a fantastic event, but I really wanted to say, ‘Just wait and see.’ The eclipse was only the second most interesting thing happening in the sky,” Kavic said.

The merging of these stars caused never-before-seen gravitational and light signals that shocked researchers.

“I don’t mind saying that when I got that particular alert, I got very emotional,” said Kavic. “We’d been working for so many years to make that happen.”

And the discovery is just the beginning of an array of new observations in store for both scientists and students at LIU, he said.

“There is a plethora of different things that students are going to be involved in. It’s the professors up here, but I want to acknowledge that we have an entire team of students who worked very hard with us and in turn we’re going to be able to make great, great contributi­ons.”

Updated 12:53 pm, October 23, 2017
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