Department of Physics

Gravitational Wave Astronomy

Group members

Core Members

Current Students

  • Ms. Qi Chu (PhD)
  • Mr. Shin Chung (PhD)

Formal Members

  • Dr. Yan Wang (Post-Doc)
  • Dr. Shaun Hopper (PhD)
  • Mr. David McKenzie (MSc)

International Collaborators

With the first gravitational wave signal detected in 2015, gravitational wave astronomy emerges as a new branch of astronomy that involves both detecting gravitational waves and using gravitational wave observations to advance our understanding of the Universe.

Ground-based laser interferometers aim to detect gravitational waves in the audio frequency band, from 10 Hz to several kHz. The Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) in the United States made the first two detections of gravitational wave signals from coalescing binary black holes in 2015. On the other front, pulsar timing arrays exploit the exceptional rotational stability of millisecond pulsars in order to detect nanohertz gravitational waves. The first detection in the nanohertz gravitational waves is likely to happen within the next decade.

Our group is part of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, which consists of more than 1000 scientists who have joined force to search for gravitational waves. We are leading one of the online detection pipelines for gravitational waves from coalescing binaries of black holes and neutron stars using LIGO data. Our group was actively searching for gravitational waves when the first two signals were detected in 2015 and will continue to be actively involved in gravitational wave searches in future science runs of LIGO as well as the Virgo detector in Europe.

Our group is also a Tier-1 member of the Australia-based Parkes Pulsar Timing Array (PPTA) collaboration and is actively involved in using Parkes pulsar timing data to search for gravitational waves from binaries of supermassive black holes. We are also part of the International Pulsar Timing Array collaboration, formed by PPTA and its international counterparts in Europe and North America

Research activities

Our group’s ongoing research activities include:

  • Real-time detection of audio-band gravitational waves from binary coalescences of black holes and neutron stars
  • Acceleration of the detection pipelines using high-performance supercomputing technologies including the use of Graphics Processing Units (GPUs)
  • Astrophysics of gravitational wave sources and electromagnetic follow-up observations
  • Searching for gravitational waves from individual supermassive black hole binaries using Parkes Pulsar Timing Array data
  • Investigating the potential of future large radio telescopes including FAST and pathfinders for the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) in detecting gravitational waves and studying the formation and co-evolution of galaxies and supermassive black holes

Recent publications

  1. Abbott B. P. et al., (2016), “GW151226: Observation of Gravitational Waves from a 22-Solar-Mass Binary Black Hole Coalescence” Physical Review Letters, 116, 241103
  2. Abbott B. P. et al., (2016), “Observation of Gravitational Waves from a Binary Black Hole Merger” Physical Review Letters, 116, 061102
  3. Chu Q., Howell E., Rowlinson A., Gao H., Zhang B., Tingay S. J., Boer M., Wen L., (2016), “Capturing the electromagnetic counterparts of binary neutron star mergers through low-latency gravitational wave triggers” MNRAS, 459, 121
  4. Zhu X.-J., Wen L., Xiong J., Xu Y., Wang Y., Mohanty S. D., Hobbs G., Manchester R. N., (2016), “Detection and localization of continuous gravitational waves with pulsar timing arrays: the role of pulsar terms” MNRAS, 461, 1317
  5. Zhu X.-J., Wen L., Hobbs G., et al., (2015), “Detection and localization of single-source gravitational waves with pulsar timing arrays” MNRAS, 449, 1650

This is only a subsection of the complete list of the publications of our research group.

PhD Opportunities

We are looking for highly motivated applicants with interest in gravitational wave data analysis and multi-messenger astronomy including gravitational waves.  Background with physics, astronomy and related disciplines is desirable. Experience with high-performance computing is a plus.

The prospect student will work on two broad areas of gravitational wave detection:

  1. Detecting gravitational waves from coalescing binaries of neutron stars and black holes with ground-based interferometers
  2. Detecting nanohertz gravitational waves with pulsar timing arrays.
Please visit the School of Physics site of PhD opportunities for more details.

Department of Physics

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Last updated:
Tuesday, 6 September, 2016 2:37 PM