Christopher Berry is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow working as part of the Gravitational Wave Group. He is a theoretical astrophysicist primarily interested in gravity: how gravitational interactions can teach us about astrophysical systems, and how astronomical measurements can teach us about gravity. His research is focussed upon how gravitational waves can improve our understanding of compact objects such as black holes that are difficult to observe by other means.
Christopher takes a keen interest in science education, whether in a formal setting teaching undergraduates or more informally communicating with the public at outreach events.
Christopher Berry read Natural Sciences, specialising in Physics, at Churchill College, University of Cambridge as an undergraduate. He continued at Cambridge, to study for a PhD in Astronomy at the Institute of Astronomy. Under the supervision of Jonathan Gair, he developed a special interest in gravitational waves and their use as a means of learning about the Universe.
Christopher joined the University of Birmingham in October 2013 as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow. He continues to investigate the scientific potential of gravitational-wave astronomy, now as a member of the international LIGO Scientific Collaboration.
Christopher enjoys teaching and enthusing others about science. He currently tutors second year undergraduate Physics and participates in a range of outreach activities to engage the public.
Christopher's current research concentrates on parameter estimation for gravitational-wave astronomy: how we can extract the information encoded in gravitational waves and use this to infer properties of their source systems. This is a difficult and computationally intense task.
Gravitational-wave observations will teach us about neutron stars and black holes, the dense remnants of stellar evolution. By studying neutron stars we can potentially learn about the properties of matter at extreme (nuclear) densities. Black holes have many intriguing characteristics that have yet to be fully explored. Calculating the population of neutron stars and black holes will inform our understanding of how stars evolve.
Gravitational-wave observations can also be used to learn about general relativity and the nature of gravity. Gravitational radiation originates from regions of space subject to strong gravitational fields, potentially revealing fundamentally new properties of gravitation. Careful observations of pulsars as well as delicate laboratory experiments have already placed precise constraints on the behaviour of gravity; gravitational-waves will provide complementary information.