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

Universitą degli Studi di Roma "La Sapienza"
  • Mirror suspension for a third generation gravitational wave antenna:
    The student will be involved in the research effort to explore new solutions for a mirror suspension suitable in a cryogenic environment. At low temperature, heat is extracted from the mirror through the mirror suspension wires. Current advanced detector designs are based on the use of fused silica, an amorphous material characterized by low thermal conductivity and high thermal capacity at low temperature. By contrast, pure and doped Silicon, sapphire and diamond are characterized by lower elastic dissipation and high thermal conductivity, and appear as an alternative solution to fused silica. However they require a thorough investigation to determine the thermo physical limits on a suspension made of such a material in real GW detectors. For this purpose, the student will be involved in measuring the thermo physical properties of the suspension samples at room and low temperature.
    Mentor: Paola Puppo
    Related Project 2011: "Understanding the properties of fused silica fibers for Virgo's current Gravitational Wave interferometer mirror suspensions"
    Related Project 2013: "Thermal Conductivity Measurements of Sapphire Fibers"
    Related Project 2014: "Thermal Conductivity of Grinded Monolithic Sapphire Fibers for KAGRA"
    Related Project 2015: "Thermal Conductivity of Indium Bonded Silicon"
  • Search of continuous gravitational wave signals from known pulsars:
    The search of continuous GW signals from known pulsars is done using an optimal data analysis method that allows to reach the best sensitivity at a relatively small computing cost. Even in the case of no detection interesting astrophysical constraints on the source can be obtained in some cases. The student will be involved in the analysis of Virgo/LIGO data targeted to some interesting pulsars and/or in the improvement of the analysis software. Some knowledge of Matlab is welcome.
    Mentor: Cristiano Palomba
    Related Project 2011: "Optimization of the Frequency-Spin Down Hough Transform"
    Related Project 2012: "Correction of Continuous Wave Signals for Pulsar Glitch Induced Phase Shifts"
  • All-sky search of continuous gravitational wave signals:
    The all-sky search of continuous GW signals consists in exploring a portion of the source parameter space as large as possible with the possible best sensitivity compatibly with the available computing power. Even in the case of no detection interesting constraints on the source population can be obtained. The student will be involved in the application of the analysis pipeline to Virgo/LIGO data and/or in the improvement of the analysis software. Some knowledge of Matlab and C is welcome.
    Mentor: Pia Astone
    Related Project 2011: "Optimization of the Frequency-Spin Down Hough Transform"
    Related Project 2012: "Hough Transform Method and Analysis for the All-Sky Search"
    Related Project 2013: "Cluster Statistics and Coincidences"
    Related Project 2014: "An analysis of the FrequencyHough method for an all-sky search for continuous gravitational waves"
    Related Project 2015: "Cleaning procedure analysis through Hough Transform for All Sky search for continuous waves"
  • Targeted search for long duration gravitational wave transients from young neutron stars:
    The search for long duration, O(hours-weeks), signals is a new and active area of research in gravitational wave physics, especially since the detection of a binary neutron star merger (GW170817) and the possibility of a remnant. We are developing a method to search for these signals originating from pulsar winds, electromagnetic and gravitational wave emissions from a magnetar, r-modes, or some combination of these from an isolated neutron star. The student will analyze real LIGO/Virgo data and help us improve our pipeline. Some knowledge of machine learning, Matlab and python is welcome.
    Mentor: Pia Astone
    Related Project 2017: "Enhancing Long Transient Power Spectra with Filters"
  • Developing a data analysis strategy for detecting continuous wave sources in binary systems:
    A particularly promising class of sources for gravitational-wave signals detectable by the advanced Virgo/LIGO detectors is represented by rapidly rotating neutron stars with non-axisymmetric deformations. Such objects are expected to emit long-lived continuous-wave signals. More than 2500 neutron stars (mostly pulsars) have already been observed, and we expect >~10^8 to exist in the Galaxy. Since more than half of the observed radio pulsars (with rotation rates that could plausibly emit gravitational waves in the most sensitive band of the Virgo/LIGO detectors) are located in binary systems, it becomes essential to develop complete data analysis techniques tailored to search for sources in binary systems.  The continuous gravitational-wave signal from a source in a binary system is frequency-modulated by the source's orbital motion, which in general is described by five unknown Keplerian parameters. All-sky searches of the parameter space of these orbital elements are computationally constrained for a coherent integration time of the order of the orbital period or longer. Thus, one must find proper methods to reduce the dimensionality of the parameter space to search, by examining reasonable trade-offs between search sensitivity and computing cost, and/or by describing the signal through a smaller number of "effective" parameters.  The willing student will have the chance to actively contribute to the development of a data analysis strategy tailored for such a purpose. Familiarity with Matlab and Python programming languages is appreciated.
    Mentor: Paola Leaci
  • La Sapienza Project 2008: "Virgo's New Cryogenic Payload: Modal frequency analysis"

Past IREU Projects
Other Prior Projects