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A new type of astronomical observatory came into existence in the past decade, and in the past several years has produced amazing results. These are the gravitational wave observatories - LIGO in the United States and VIRGO in Italy. These observatories are looking for, and now are frequently finding, minute disturbances in space-time. The sources of these disturbances have proven to be the results of collisions and mergers of black holes - a process which propagates shivers in gravity throughout the universe.  What is a black hole?  How do we know they exist?  Where are they? And how are these new observatories finding them? What are NASA’s plans for building a gravitational wave observatory in space?  These are some of the questions that will be answered in this presentation.

From 1997 to 2008, Dr. Charles Holmes was a senior program officer at NASA Headquarters. He was responsible for a suite of operating science missions observing the sun, the interplanetarysolar wind and their interactions with the Earthand other planets. Managing this program included overseeing the progress of the venerable Voyager satellites as they made their ways into interstellar space.   In 2008, Dr. Holmes received NASA’s Exceptional Service Medal. Prior to joining NASA HQ, he worked for the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Johns Hopkins University as the Operations Scientist for NASA’s Far-Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer.  He is a retired USAF officer, where he directed research and development projects for several national security programs.



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