Faculty of Science

Detecting gravitational waves from coalescing binaries of neutron stars and black holes

We focus on the research area of gravitational wave signal processing, high-performance supercomputing, and multi-messenger astronomy including gravitational waves using data from ground-based interferometric gravitational-wave detectors.

  1. Summary of the project
  2. Eligibility criteria
  3. Readings
  4. Contact the research team
  5. How to apply
  6. Scholarships

Summary of the project

It is an exciting time for gravitational wave research.  The first gravitational wave signal from merging binary black holes was detected in September 2015 during the first science run of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) in the United States.  This not only confirmed Einstein’s theory on gravitational waves but also marked the beginning of a new era in astronomy.   The second LIGO science run is scheduled in October 2016. Up to tens of new detections are expected from this run and many more are expected in the next few years.

We are leading one of the online detection pipelines for gravitational waves from coalescing binaries of black holes and neutron stars using detector data.  Our group was actively searching for gravitational waves online using the LIGO data during the first science run where the first discovery was made. The group will continue to be actively involved in detecting gravitational waves in science runs of LIGO as well as the Virgo detector in Europe.

The prospect student is expected to work on some of the following aspects:

  • Directly involving in the online real-time searches for gravitational wave signals in LIGO/Virgo detector data
  • Speed up of gravitational wave searches using high-performance supercomputing techniques including the use of Graphics Processing Units (GPUs)
  • Testing Einstein’s theory of general relativity using data of discovered gravitational wave events
  • Optimizing future detector network to maximize the scientific potential of gravitational wave astronomy
  • Analytically and numerically investigating new binary black hole merger models with potentially observable electromagnetic counterpart

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Eligibility criteria

General UWA PhD entrance requirements can be found on the Future Students website.

Requirements specific to this project:

  • We are looking for highly motivated applicants with interest in gravitational wave search and multi-messenger astronomy including gravitational waves. Background with astrophysics and/or high-performance computing is desirable. For applicant with interest in search pipeline development, software programming experience using C/C++, Python are required, and programming ability for Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) is a plus.
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Contact the research team leader

Once you have ensured that you meet the eligibility criteria and are ready to discuss a proposal, contact the research team leader to identify a potential supervisor.
Research team leader: Professor Linqing Wen
I am the leader of the gravitational wave astronomy research group at School of Physics. My research interests include gravitational wave detection in audio and nanohertz band. I am interested in analytical and numerical modeling, algorithm design, supercomputing and multi-messenger astronomy. My team is currently an active member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration and the Parkes Pulsar Timing Array collaboration.

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How to apply

After you have discussed your project with the research team leader you should be in a position to proceed to step two of the UWA application process: 'Lodge an application'.

Different procedures apply to domestic and international students.

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Domestic students

All domestic students may apply for Research Training Program and University Postgraduate Awards (UPA) scholarships.

The Australian Government's Endeavour Awards and Scholarships are available to Australian applicants for study in participating countries and regions.

International students

A range of scholarships are available from international organisations and governments. The full list, organised by country, is available on the Future Students website.

In addition, all international students may apply for International Research Training Program scholarships.

The Australian Government's Endeavour Awards and Scholarships are available to international applicants from participating countries and regions.

Indigenous students

Indigenous students are encouraged to apply for Indigenous Postgraduate Research Supplementary Scholarships.

Forrest Foundation scholarships

All international and Australian students who wish to study towards the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at The University of Western Australia may apply for Forrest Scholarships.

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