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Dr. Simon Stevenson

On 14th September 2015 the Advanced LIGO detectors observed gravitational-waves from a merging binary black hole for the first time. There are many theories of how one can form a binary of two black holes orbiting one another close enough that they can collide and give off a burst of gravitational-waves. Broadly, these are through dynamical interactions in extremely dense stellar environments such as globular clusters, and the evolution of a massive binary star system in isolation. I study both of these formation channels, trying to understand how we might be able to distinguish between these scenarios (or measure the fraction of evens originating from each) using gravitational-wave observations. These theories also contain many uncertainties pertaining to poorly understood physical processes such as supernovae and common envelope evolution. I try to understand how gravitational-wave observations may help shed some light on these processes, informing our understanding of massive stellar evolution.

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