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Origin of the heavy elements, the universe and the physics of the extreme – UM astrophysicist, Dr. Samar Safi-Harb and her team on LIGO scientific collaboration

February 9, 2024 — 

It took the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC) decades to detect what Einstein predicted more than 100 years ago: the gravitational waves, the ripples in the fabric of space-time. The direct detection of gravitational waves on August 17, 2017 from two colliding neutron stars opened the new era of multi-messenger, gravitational wave astrophysics. “The LIGO discovery of gravitational waves of two colliding neutron stars is what got me interested in joining that collaboration,” says Dr. Samar Safi-Harb, UM professor and Canada Research Chair in Extreme Astrophysics. She saw the golden opportunity to join the LSC as their discovery aligned perfectly with her expertise and research interest. Dr. Safi-Harb and her research team study extreme astrophysical objects, heavy elements and the astrophysical origin of the heavy elements. These are the elements that make us and the world around us. Understanding their origin is understanding the origin of the universe. We sat down with her to learn more about her research, her vision for the future of this collaboration and what it means for UM Faculty of Science to be part of the LIGO scientific collaboration. Watch the full interview on the Faculty of Science’s YouTube channel.

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