A distinguished Greek diaspora scientist, astrophysicist Vicky Kalogera, a professor at the University of Northwestern Illinois, has made a significant contribution to the discovery of the first gravitational waves. The gravitational waves from the violent and bright collision of two neutron stars at a distance of 130 million light years from Earth.
The announcement was made yesterday by scientists both in the US and Europe.
It was no coincidence that at the press conference held yesterday in Washington by the LIGO scientific consortium and the US National Science Foundation, Vicky Kalogera was one of the six panel experts who answered the journalists’ questions and analyzed the significance of the discovery.
A discovery that opens new paths to astronomy, apart from the gravitational waves, was also detected by the same source – the merging neutron stars – the radiation, visible and not, that gave birth to the cosmic phenomenon, which was so powerful that along the way «Gave birth» and heavy chemical elements such as gold and platinum.
According to Mrs. Kalogera, the top astrophysicist in the large-scale research team of the two LIGO gravitational probes in the US (more than 1,000 scientists), «the mergers of two neutron stars have been predicted for many decades that they can lead to such powerful explosions, but this new multidimensional discovery joins for the first time two puzzle pieces of the puzzle. »
«Our discovery» emphasizes «confirms many of our theoretical predictions, including that neutron star pairs generate gamma rays, optical radiation, infrared, X-ray and radio waves. At the same time, we now have in the new observations signs that bring forth new mysteries, which we must understand. »
Awarded by NASA
Kalogera, whose name and associates are in the scientific publications accompanying the new discovery, is head of the four-member team of astronomy and astrophysics at Northwestern University participating in LIGO.
As the Greek researcher says, «our university has played a unique role in the new discovery and this is no exaggeration». Besides the title of «Distinguished Professor» of Physics and Astronomy, she is the director of the Northwestern Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics (CIERA).
«This combination of light and gravitational waves,» he stresses, «is totally new and very exciting – we have never had this kind of observation. With gravitational signals from three detectors, two in the US and one in Italy, we were able to tell our electromagnetic colleagues, who work across the electromagnetic spectrum, at what point in the sky they would focus their telescopes to find the pair of neutron stars «.
The Greek astrophysicist is expecting many more discoveries. As he says, «one could say» okay, we did our job, let’s go home now. » But, in fact, this is just the beginning for us. The more sources we detect, the more we can learn. The universe does not stop with such a conflict and all the explosions will not be the same. We know this from the pairs of black holes. So, we plan to discover new mysteries. »
Vicky Kalogera graduated in 1992 from the Department of Physics of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, took her PhD in 1997 from the University of Illinois, and then did postdoctoral research at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. In 2001 she became Assistant Professor at the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Northwestern University, in 2006 as a deputy and a 2009 regular lecturer.
He is the author of more than 200 scientific publications, including gravitational waves.
She has won many awards and her research is funded, among other things, by NASA.