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Supermassive Black Hole Binaries and Where to Find Them

Supermassive Black Hole Binaries and Where to Find Them

Wednesday, November 30, 2022 at 4:00 pm
328 Weniger
Dr. Bence Bécsy, Oregon State University [Siemens Group]

Pulsar timing arrays are sensitive to gravitational waves in the nanohertz frequency band. The most promising astrophysical sources in this regime are supermassive black hole binaries, which can form after major galaxy mergers. The vast majority of these will constitute a stochastic gravitational-wave background, while some of the brightest binaries might be detectable individually. In this talk I will describe some of the challenges of searching for these binaries, like making efficient data analysis on unevenly sampled data with heteroscedastic noise, finding individual binaries in the presence of a stochastic background, or distinguishing multiple individual binaries. Overcoming these challenges will be crucial in order to be able to detect these systems, and thus learn more about the formation and evolution of supermassive black hole binaries.

Bio: Bence Becsy got his BSc and MSc in Physics from Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary, where he worked on searching for unmodeled transient gravitational-wave signals in LIGO data. He then went on to Montana State University, where he earned his PhD in Physics earlier this year. His thesis work focused on nanohertz gravitational waves from supermassive black hole binaries and from as-yet-unknown sources. He joined the group of Xavier Siemens as a postdoc this fall, working on nanohertz gravitational waves. When not chasing gravitational waves, Bence likes to chase trout and other fish with his fly rod. He prefers running on the trails while his codes are running on computer clusters.