Project Level: Winter

Project Duration: 

4 weeks – 20-36 hours per week. Applicant will be required on-site for the project.


Gravitational waves are ripples in spacetime. One hundred years after Einstein predicted them, they were first observed directly in 2015. The 2015
measurement by LIGO detected the collision of two black holes. In 2017 they also detected a merger of two neutron stars. In the latter case optical
and radio telescopes discovered an afterglow of the subsequent explosion, which resulted in a burst of scientific results. LIGO and the wider gravitational-wave detector network will be turning on again after a major upgrade in May 2023. In this project you will use the optical telescopes we have access to from UQ to search for optical afterglows of colliding neutron stars detected by gravitational waves. This data will contribute to efforts to test predictions of general relativity, measure the properties of nuclear material in neutron stars, and measure the expansion rate of the universe.

Expected Outcomes:

You will learn about gravitational waves, how to use a telescope, data analysis, and coding skills.

Suitable for:

Students with a background in physics/astrophysics and/or strong coding skills would be appropriate.

Further Information:

Please contact Professor Tamara Davis if you wish to apply. To note if LIGO is delayed this project will not be viable, so I will need to check closer to the date. (If LIGO is delayed we can adapt and do another project.)

Project members

Professor Tamara Davis

ARC Laureate Fellow
School of Mathematics and Physics