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Frans Pretorius

Bio Outline

Appointment

  • Senior Fellow
  • Gravity & the Extreme Universe

Institution

  • Princeton University
Department of Physics

Country

  • United States

Education

PhD (Physics), University of British Columbia
MSc (Physics), University of Victoria
BEng (Computer Engineering), University of Victoria

About

Frans Pretorius is an astrophysicist whose main research interests centre on Einstein’s theory of general relativity – the theory of the nature of space and time that describes, in particular, what we perceive as the force of gravity.

Some of the more fascinating predictions of general relativity include black holes, space-time singularities and gravitational waves. Today there is strong, though circumstantial, evidence that black holes exist in our universe and play an important role in many processes, such as the evolution of galaxies.

To directly ‘see’ black holes will require observing the gravitational waves that they emit during their interactions (often extremely energetic and dynamical) with compact objects such as other black holes, neutron stars or white dwarfs. Today, there is a large international effort to build gravitational wave detectors capable of observing waves over several frequency bands, with the aim of understanding their structure. Pretorius’ primary research effort in this regard is the simulation of binary black hole system inspirals and mergers. Such sources are expected to be the strongest emitters of gravitational waves, and the merger of a supermassive black hole binary should be detectable by LISA (a planned space-based interferometer), if it occurs anywhere in the universe.

Awards

National Science Foundation CAREER Award

Sloan Research Fellowship

APS Nicholas Metropolis Award for Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Work in Computational Physics

Distinguished Visiting Research Chair, Perimeter Institute

Relevant Publications

Choptuik, M., and F. Pretorius. "Ultrarelativistic Particle Collisions.” Phys. Rev. Lett. 104 (2010): 111101.