Astrophysics from LIGO’s First Black Holes

Coordinators: Duncan Brown, Alessandra Buonanno, Daniel Holz, and Eliot Quataert

LIGO has announced its first detection of gravitational waves from the merger of two 30 solar-mass black holes, heralding the birth of gravitational-wave astronomy. The black holes that LIGO is now observing will drive a revolution in our understanding of the warped side of the universe and in the life and death of massive stars. When LIGO observed its first signal, its detectors were still a factor of three away from their design sensitivity – additional signals will be seen by the end of this year. This Rapid Response program will assemble a focused group of experts to discuss the scientific ramifications of LIGO’s detections and to anticipate the scientific opportunities from future observing runs. The central questions will include understanding how gravitational-wave observations can improve the astrophysical understanding of binary stellar evolution and the origin of binary black hole mergers.