Greek Scientist in New Gravitational Wave Discovery (video)

Vicky Kalogera; a Northwestern University physicist, was among scientists from all over the world that announced a whole new kind of gravitational wave signal on Monday.

Presenting the findings at a National Science Foundation press conference in Washington, DC, Kalogera and others said that they detected the warping of space generated by the collision of two dead stars, or neutron stars.

They have confirmed that such mergers lead to the production of the gold and platinum that exists in the Universe.

Artist’s illustration of two merging neutron stars.

The measurement of the gravitational waves given off by this cataclysmic event, was made on 17 August by the LIGO-VIRGO Collaboration.

The discovery enabled telescopes all over the world to capture details of the merger as it unfolded.

That August day, x-ray telescopes, visible light, radio telescopes, and gamma-ray telescopes all spotted a flash, one consistent with a pair of neutron stars swirling together, colliding and coalescing into a black hole.

The observation, called a “kilonova,” simultaneously answered questions like “where did the heavy metal in our Universe come from” and “what causes some of the gamma-ray bursts scientists have observed since the 60s.”

Kalogera: I cancelled everything on the news

Speaking to Gizmodo, Kalogera says that on August 17 she had planned to spend the whole day at the spa. Right as she left her room, she just had to give her email a peep. The deluge brought the news: Telescopes and detectors across the world were making a monumental observation.

“I cancelled everything and ended up working nonstop since that moment,” she told Gizmodo.

Kalogera received her Bachelor of Science degree in Physics, in 1992, from the University of Thessaloniki in Greece, and her Ph.D. in Astronomy in 1997, from the University of Illinois, at Urbana-Champaign.

She was appointed Assistant Professor at Northwestern University in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in 2001, was promoted to Associate Professor in 2006, was named the Erastus Otis Haven Professor of Physics and Astronomy in 2009, and was appointed Associate Chair of the Physics and Astronomy Department in 2015.

She is a co-founder (2009) and the current Director of CIERA, the Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics, an endowed research center at Northwestern focused on advancing astrophysics studies with emphasis on interdisciplinary connections.

Kalogera serves on the Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics of the National Research Council and the Executive Board of Directors of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope Corporation (LSSTC).

Kalogera’s presentation begins at 32′