Seminar details

Date: 28.05.2024

Jan van Roestel (Uni.Amsterdam)

Gravitational wave astronomy with the BlackGEM optical telescope array and other survey telescopes

Gravitational waves are ripples and space and time and were first directly detected in 2015. The sources of these gravitational waves are typically binary stars; black holes, neutron stars, and white dwarfs. While we can (or will be able to) detect the gravitational waves of these sources, to understand them, we need to study them using other techniques. In my talk, I will discuss the search for gravitational wave sources with optical survey telescopes; specifically with the Zwicky Transient Facility and the new BlackGEM array. In the first part, I will focus on finding binary white dwarfs, sources for which the evolution is driven by angular momentum loss in gravitational waves. I'll focus on how we tackled the data-mining challenge and how this resulted in a better understanding of the population of very short-period white dwarf binaries. In the second part of my talk I will present the new BlackGEM array. The main science driver of BlackGEM is to find the optical counterpart to neutron-star mergers (kilonova) but BlackGEM will also search the sky ultra-compact white dwarf binaries in the southern hemisphere.


I got my PhD at Radboud University, Nijmegen, NL, where I worked on the study of fast optical transients using the Palomar Transient Factory (PTF). As a postdoc at Caltech, I was part of the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) collaboration and used the telescope to study white dwarf binary stars. Currently, I am a VENI postdoc fellow at the University of Amsterdam, where I continue to work on white dwarf binaries. In addition, I am the project scientist for the BlackGEM telescope array.

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