News & Events

Masha Baryakhtar (NYU)

Event Details

McDonald Institute Seminar Series

Location: Rm 501 Stirling Hall, Queen's University, Kingston ON

Date: September 17, 2019

Time: 11:30am - 12:30am

Searching for Ultralight Bosons with Black holes and Gravitational Waves

The LIGO detection of gravitational waves has opened a new window on the universe. I will discuss how the process of superradiance, combined with gravitational wave measurements, makes black holes into nature’s laboratories to search for new light bosons, from axions to dark photons. When a bosonic particle’s Compton wavelength is comparable to the horizon size of a black hole, superradiance of these bosons into bound states extracts energy and angular momentum from the black hole. The occupation number of the levels grows exponentially and the black hole spins down. One candidate for such an ultralight boson is the QCD axion with decay constant above the GUT scale. Current black hole spin measurements disfavor a factor of 30 (400) in axion (vector) mass; future measurements can provide evidence of a new boson. Particles annihilating to gravitons may produce thousands of monochromatic gravitational wave signals, while self-interactions of axions source semi-relativistic axion waves.