This series consists of talks in areas where gravity is the main driver behind interesting or peculiar phenomena, from astrophysics to gravity in higher dimensions.
Numerical simulations of binary black holes with spin have revealed some surprising behavior: for antialigned spins in the orbital plane, 1) one sees an up-and-down "bobbing" of the entire orbital plane at the orbital frequency and 2) the merged black hole receives an enormous kick that depends on the phase at merger. Natural questions are: What causes the bobbing? Can the kick be viewed as a post-merger continuation of the bobbing?
I will present the latest results from the searches for gravitational waves from the coalescence of binary systems of neutron stars and black holes in LIGO and Virgo data. We present results on data from the Fifth Science Run LIGO run S5 from Nov 2005 to Oct 2007, which was joint with Virgo's first Science Run VSR1 from May to Oct 2007. We also show how these methods are being applied in the current LIGO S6/ Virgo VSR2 data-taking run started in July 2009, and recently ended in October 2010.
I discuss a model for particle acceleration in the current sheet separating the open and closed field line regions, and crossing the
neutral line region, of a pulsar's magnetosphere, which has substantial kinship to the phenomena observed in planetary magnetospheres within the solar system. Possible applications to gamma ray emission from pulsars are also described.
A remarkable result from heavy ion collisions at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider is that shortly after a collision, the medium produced behaves as a nearly ideal liquid. The system is very dynamic and evolves from a state of two colliding nuclei to a liquid in a time roughly equivalent to the time it takes light to cross a proton. Understanding the mechanisms behind the rapid approach to a liquid state is a challenging task.
Over the last decade there has been strong interest in the theory and phenomenology of particle propagation in quantum spacetime. The main results concern possible Planck-scale modifications of the "dispersion" relation between energy and momentum of a particle. I review results establishing that these modifications can be tested using observations of gamma rays from sources at cosmological distances. And I report recent progress in the understanding of the implications of spacetime expansion for such studies.
Coincident detections of electromagnetic and gravitational wave signatures from the merger of supermassive binary black holes are the next observational grand challenge. Such detections will provide a wealth of opportunities to study gravitational physics, accretion physics, and cosmology. Understanding the conditions under which coincidences of electromagnetic and gravitational wave signatures arise during supermassive black hole mergers is therefore of paramount importance, requiring multi-scale/physics computational modeling.
For the past century, there has been much discussion and debate about the equations of motion satisfied by a classical point charge when the effects of its own electromagnetic field are taken into account. Derivations by Abraham (1903), Lorentz (1904), Dirac (1938) and others suggest that the "self-force" (or "radiation reaction force") on a point charge is given in the non-relativistic limit by a term proportional to the time derivative of the acceleration of the charge.
Gas accretion onto black holes is thought to power some of the most energetic astrophysical phenomena observed. Black hole accretion disks are efficient engines for converting binding energy into light, and for launching relativistic unbound flows (jets) such as in gamma ray bursts, microquasars and radio-loud active galactic nuclei (AGN). Some systems individually exhibit a wide variety of spectral and bolometric states while others remain remarkably predictable. As