Dr Andrew Fowlie joins the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves

15 May 2024

Dr Andrew Fowlie from the Department of Physics has joined the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves (NANOGrav), where he will contribute to data analysis and presentation. He recently proposed a new way of presenting results from experimental searches for new physics called the Bayes factor surface. The paper was accepted by The European Physical Journal C and captured the interest of NANOGrav.

The NANOGrav Collaboration searches for gravitational waves by observing neutron stars with radio telescopes.  In particular, they observe several millisecond pulsars, rapidly rotating neutron stars that complete a revolution about every millisecond. These pulsars play the role of accurate clocks. Gravitational waves cause disturbances in spacetime, affecting these clocks. In fact, gravitational waves leave a signature of special correlations between disturbances in an array of pulsars. NANOGrav is a so-called pulsar timing array experiment that records and analyses these correlations to find evidence of gravitational waves. From these gravitational waves, we can learn about cosmological events far in our Universe's past, such as collisions between black holes and first-order phase transitions analogous to our Universe boiling.

Gravitational Wave Background 

Artist's rendering of black hole binaries emitting gravitational waves. As the waves overlap, they produce a background of gravitational waves that creates a distinctive correlation pattern in the timing of pulses coming from pairs of pulsars. Illustration Credit: Olena Shmahalo for NANOGrav

"I hope to contribute towards statistical analysis, presentation and computation, including helping present searches using a Bayes factor surface." Dr Fowlie says.

Materials provided by Andrew Fowlie

Edited by Qinru Liu

15 May 2024