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In 1916, Einstein used his newly minted description of gravity -- general relativity -- to make a remarkable prediction about the Cosmos: gravity should warp the fabric of the Universe, and that warpage should move from one place to another. This new phenomenon was called "gravitational waves." Fast-forward 100 years, and we find ourselves at the dawn of a new era. LIGO has detected gravitational waves for the first time, and astronomers and physicists are looking ahead toward the future. Observing astrophysical systems with gravitational waves alone, and by combining those observations with traditional observations using telescopes, has the potential to transform our view of the Cosmos.
In this talk, we'll examine the basic idea of gravitational wave astronomy, talk about what astronomers can learn about the Universe from gravitational waves, and what the near future of this emerging field holds in store.