The Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) will be the first gravitational-wave observatory operating in space. LISA is an ESA-led 'large' mission with contributions from NASA. It consists of a triangular laser interferometer with arms of 2.5 million kilometres in length in a heliocentric orbit trailing Earth. The observatory will be sensitive to gravitational waves in the milliHertz range and it is planned to operate in the mid 2030s. LISA will observe black holes in binary systems over an unprecedented mass range throughout the Universe. Thanks to its superb sensitivity, LISA is expected to discover many new sources and phenomena. In this talk I will discuss the mission and its role in tackling some of the current mysteries in astrophysics, cosmology and fundamental physics.
Alberto Vecchio received his PhD in astronomy from the Universita’ di Milano, Italy. He held post-doctoral positions at Cardiff University and the Albert-Einstein-Institut (Max-Planck-Institut für Gravitationsphysik). In 2001 he joined the University of Birmingham, where he is now Professor of Astrophysics, Royal Society Wolfson Fellow, and founding Director of the Institute for Gravitational Wave Astronomy. His research focuses on gravitational-wave physics, observations across the gravitational-wave spectrum, and instrument development for ground-based laser interferometers. He is a member of the LIGO team that detected gravitational waves in 2015 and has been honoured with several awards and prizes, including being co-recipient of the 2016 Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics.