IPTA 2010: Detecting Gravitational Waves with Pulsars

21 June - 2 July 2010

Venue: Lorentz Center@Oort

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Gravitational wave detection is one of the holy grails of current research in fundamental physics and astronomy. One of the promising methods for the detection of long wavelength (several light months to years) gravitational waves, is to use millisecond pulsars located in our Galaxy as nearly perfect Einstein clocks. Gravitational waves produced by sources like close binaries of super massive black holes will disturb the nearly perfect regularity of the periodic radio signal produced by the millisecond pulsars. Thus precise monitoring of the pulse trains should allow one, in principle, to measure these gravitational waves. To succeed, one needs a coordinated campaign of super precise timing of a large number (~ 20 รข 40) of millisecond pulsars and the use of sophisticated algorithms to reliably extract the weak gravitational-wave signal from the pulsar timing data.

Internationally, there are three rapidly developing pulsar timing networks (called pulsar timing arrays): one is the Parkes Pulsar Timing Array organized in Australia around the Parkes radio telescope; another is the NANOGrav collaboration in North America which is using the Arecibo and Green Bank radio telescopes; and a third one is the European Pulsar Timing Array which uses five major radio telescopes located on the Continent and England. The purpose of the two-week workshop is two-fold: a. to promote critical interaction between the networks and with the wider gravitational wave community, and b. to introduce the new generation of young researchers into this new, rapidly developing field. Thus during the first week (the "school"), experts in the field will share their knowledge and organize hands-on exercises to explore the ideas being presented. During the second week, the active workers in the field will help advance the frontiers of our understanding through their fresh perspectives on critical problems, and design strategies for further progress and collaboration.


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