International Summer Research Program in Gravitational-Wave Physics:
Research Experiences for Undergraduates around the world

University of Melbourne
  • Gravitational Waves from Extreme Binary Stars:
    Low-mass X-ray binaries (LMXBs) are binary stellar systems, where one component is either a neutron star or a black hole, and the other is a low-mass star that continually sheds mass onto the heavier partner. Observed predominantly in the X-ray spectrum, LMXBs are believed to be excellent candidates for multi-messenger astronomy (i.e. simultaneous measurements of electromagnetic and gravitational wave signals from a single object).  The University of Melbourne currently runs a continuous-wave gravitational wave search for the LMXB Sco-X1 which, aside from the Sun, is the brightest X-ray source in the sky.  The student will investigate the other known LMXBs (~100) and perform a feasibility study for gravitational wave searches of these other objects.  Time permitting, the student will also begin to modify the Sco-X1 pipeline for the next best gravitational wave candidate.
    Mentors: Andrew Melatos, Brynmor Haskell, Paul Lasky and Letizia Sammut
  • Gravitational Waves from Neutron Star Magnetic Explosions:
    One expected target for LIGO are the isolated, strongly magnetised neutron stars known as magnetars. These objects have the strongest magnetic fields in the Universe, the dynamics of which cause regular flares to be emitted from the surface (analogously to solar flares).  Recently, a new potential source of gravitational waves from these flares has been discovered, which arise from oscillations of the stars internal magnetic field.  The expected spectrum of these waves is not known due to the complex nature of the source itself.  The REU student will contribute to the general relativistic magnetohydrodynamics code that was initially used to unveil this source of radiation.  In particular, the student will investigate the relationship that different magnetic field topologies and neutron star equations of state have on the gravitational wave emission.  This will result in more robust predictions that can be utilized in gravitational wave searches within the LIGO collaboration.
    Mentors: Paul Lasky, Brynmor Haskell and Andrew Melatos
    Related Project 2015: "Gravitational Waves from Neutron Star Magnetic Explosions"
  • Data analysis in the Cloud:
    The gravitational wave data analysis pipelines that are being run at the University of Melbourne are being run on computer clusters in Europe and the US.  A long-term goal within the Australian gravitational-wave research community is to develop a Tier-1 data centre to house and locally analyze LIGO data.  A stepping-stone to realizing this goal is to successfully run LIGO data analysis software on a cloud-based system.  In collaboration with the gravitational physics group and high-level distributed computing experts in the Computer Science department and also the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), the student will port the University of Melbourne's Sco-X1 sideband search to a cloud-based virtual laboratory.  The project requires an REU student with an excellent background in computer science.
    Mentors: Paul Lasky, Patrick Clearwater and Andrew Melatos

Past IREU Projects
Other Prior Projects