Éanna E. Flanagan, a theoretical physicist, is an associate professor of physics and astronomy at Cornell University. His research field is Einstein’s theory of relativity, and he studies the properties and interactions of neutron stars, black holes, and the early universe. These objects can act as sources for ripples in the fabric of space-time, or gravitational waves. Within the next decade, scientists hope that instruments currently under construction will detect such gravitational waves, giving rise to a new branch of astronomy.
In his Radcliffe fellowship project, titled “The Gravitational Wave Signatures of Black Holes,” Flanagan will develop theoretical tools and computational methods for computing the gravitational wave signals emitted by neutron stars spiraling into supermassive black holes in distant galaxies. The measurement of these signals will allow precise and detailed tests of the properties of black holes and of general relativity.
Flanagan earned his PhD in theoretical physics at the California Institute of Technology in 1993. He was subsequently a postdoctoral scholar at Caltech, and an Enrico Fermi fellow at the University of Chicago. While at Cornell, he received a fellowship from the Sloan Foundation and a faculty early career development award from the National Science Foundation.