Physics and Astronomy Colloquium: Probing Neutron Stars with Gravitational Waves

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April 6, 2023
3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Event category: Seminar

Speaker: Dr. Carolyn Raithel 
Associate Research Scholar
Princeton University

Title: Probing Neutron Stars with Gravitational Waves

Abstract:Neutron stars contain the densest stable matter in the universe. Since the first detection of gravitational waves from a binary neutron star merger in 2017, we have entered an era of multi-messenger observations of these extreme objects and their transients. However, the interpretation of these new types of data also poses new challenges for theorists working to develop to understand the dense-matter physics that govern neutron stars across a wide range of settings -- from the cold, equilibrium conditions of an isolated neutron star, to the hot and dynamical environment following a merger. In this talk, I will discuss a framework for connecting astrophysical observations of neutron stars to the microphysics of their interior structure. I will discuss what we have learned about the dense-matter equation of state from the first observations of neutron stars mergers, and what we hope to learn from current and upcoming experiments over the next decade. Along the way, I will present results from numerical simulations of neutron star mergers to highlight some of the key open questions and challenges that lie ahead.


Bio: Dr. Raithel is a joint postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study, the Princeton Center for Theoretical Science, and the Princeton Gravity Initiative. She received her PhD in Astronomy & Astrophysics from the University of Arizona in 2020. Dr.  Raithel is interested in using the astrophysical properties of neutron stars to study the dense-matter equation of state. She uses a variety of analytical techniques as well as numerical simulations to understand the mapping between neutron star observables and the underlying physics of the stellar interior. Recently, she has been particularly interested in studying the gravitational wave signatures of neutron star mergers which are now being observed by the LIGO/VIRGO collaboration. By simulating neutron star mergers in numerical relativity and with realistic finite-temperature microphysics, she hopes to uncover new insights into the properties and interactions of ultra-dense matter.


Claude Pruneau


April 2023