Optimising a neutron star extreme matter observatory

Synopsis

Following a practical introduction to optical interferometry for gravitational wave detectors and simulation tools, this project will model the optical configuration to optimize detector performance against a number of possible predictions of the neutron star equation of state.

Research fields

Astrophysics;Engineering in Physics

Description

With the detection of gravitational waves using the LIGO and Virgo detectors [1], we opened up a new window into the Universe. After many more observations of gravitational wave sources, the one standing out was the observation of the binary neutron star merger, GW170817 [2]. After capturing the gravitational-wave signal from the collision and various electromagnetic counterparts, one question remains unanswered --- what was the nature of the remnant produced in the collision; is it a black hole or a stable neutron star? The outcome of the collision depends on the masses of the two individual neutron stars and the yet unknown neutron star equation of state (which describes the state of neutron star matter under the extreme physical conditions). To further investigate the astrophysics behind these events, Australian scientist developed a new detector concept which targets the detection of binary neutron start mergers and the related astrophysics. They developed the Neutron Star Extreme Matter Observatory (NEMO) [3], which is a highly tuned complex optical interferometer, similar to the LIGO detectors, and focusing on the binary neutron star merger frequencies around 1-4 kHz. This frequency range is set by the various equations of state describing the merger process. However, to maximise the detection probability and optimise target frequency, we need to bridge the modelling of astrophysics equation of state and neutron star mass distribution with the modelling of the optical detector configuration.

[1] Observation of Gravitational Waves from a Binary Black Hole Merger, https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevLett.116.061102

[2] GW170817: Observation of Gravitational Waves from a Binary Neutron Star Inspiral, https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevLett.119.161101

[3] Neutron Star Extreme Matter Observatory: A kilohertz-band gravitational-wave detector in the global network, https://doi.org/10.1017/pasa.2020.39