Gravitational wave astronomy school program

The school will take place over three days, two at UWA (Mon, Tues) and the third at Gingin (Wed). It will be followed by the 2018 ANITA workshop. Monday/Tuesday will be located in the ground floor seminar room at ICRAR UWA (Ken and Julie Michael Building). A registration desk will be setup just outside the seminar room. Please note that the bus for Gingin leaves just outside ICRAR UWA at 7:30 , so please give yourself enough time to get to the departure point.

There will be a half-day on Multimessenger, a half-day on pulsar timing, a full day on GW analysis, followed by a half-day of GW astrophysics and a half-day on LIGO. Speakers are listed below, followed by the schedule. Some sessions require preparation or specific software, details of which are listed here.

For Gingin, the AIGO tour times are listed here.

Big Questions: To answer the big questions in astronomy, fill out this form.


Kendall Ackley (Monash): Multimessenger Astronomy

The first detection of a binary neutron star merger made with Advanced LIGO and Virgo, GW170817, led to incredible advancements in the field of Multimessenger Astronomy. We will review how the electromagnetic community responded GW170817, how to uncover and attempt to explain the astrophysical mechanisms behind this and other types of LIGO sources in a hands-on presentation, and how the future of Multimessenger Astronomy will help to uncover great mysteries of the Universe.

  • Slides found here.

Stefan Oslowski (Swinburne): Pulsar Timing Arrays

The gravitational waves spectrum spans a large range of frequencies with various experiments covering different parts of the spectrum. At the low end of the spectrum, in the nanoHertz regime, we use so-calledPulsar Timing Arrays (PTAs) to try and detect gravitational waves. PTAs observe tens of millisecond pulsars spread throughout our Galaxy to form a galactic-scale detector. The primary signal PTAs attempt to detect are mergers of supermassive blackholes. During this school I'll provide you with an overview of the history of PTAs, current efforts and struggles, as well as the outlook into the bright future.

  • Slides found here.

Rory Smith (Monash): LIGO Data Analysis and Parameter Inference

Gravitational-wave astronomy began on September 14th, 2015 with the observation of the merger of two black holes, each weighing approximately thirty times the mass of the sun and located 1.5 billion light years away. During the collision, three times the mass of the sun was converted into gravitational-wave energy in a fraction of a second - with a peak power output 50 times that of the whole visible universe. This was measured by LIGO detectors as a stretching and squeezing of space-time on the order of a thousandth of the width of the proton over 4km. How were we able to detect such a small signal? And how did we infer so much information from the signal which barely lasted for a fifth of a second? In this hands-on session we will cover the basics of detecting gravitational waves from merging black holes and neutron stars. In the second half of the session we will work through some of the methods for decoding astrophysical information that is encoded in gravitational waves.

  • Slides found here.

Jade Powell (Swinburne): Astrophysics of LIGO sources

The first direct detections of gravitational waves from compact binary mergers were made in the recent observing runs of the Advanced LIGO and Virgo gravitational-wave detectors. The number of detections of compact binaries is expected to increase as the detectors reach their design sensitivity, and further detections may occur from other types of astrophysical sources. Gravitational-wave detections can improve our understanding of the astrophysics of the sources and of source populations. We review the astrophysics that is enabled by gravitational wave detections made in the advanced detector era.

  • Slides found here.

Rob Ward (ANU): How LIGO works (instrumentation)

From space-time strain to digital bits: how modern gravitational wave detectors work. The advanced laser interferometric gravitational wave detectors currently operating are the most sensitive measurement devices ever constructed. They employ sophisticated interferometric techniques including nested optical cavities, highly effective active and passive seismic isolation, ultra-low-loss, high optical quality materials, and bespoke digital and analog control systems. We will discuss how these methods come together at a systems level to transduce the “ripples in the fabric of spacetime” into the data products that can be analysed to extract the information carried by gravitational waves.

Monday 5th February (UWA)

8:30 - 9:00 —Registration and coffee —
9:00 - 10:30 Multimessenger Astronomy I Kendall Ackley
10:30 - 11:00 —Coffee Break —
11:00 - 12:30 Multimessenger Astronomy II Kendall Ackley
12:30 - 13:30 —Lunch —
13:30 - 15:00 Pulsar Timing Arrays I Stefan Oslowski
15:00 - 15:30 —Coffee Break —
15:30 - 17:00 Pulsar Timing Arrays II Stefan Oslowski
17:00 —Social pizza night —

Tuesday 6th February (UWA)

9:00 - 10:30 LIGO Data Analysis I Rory Smith
10:30 - 11:00 —Coffee Break —
11:00 - 12:30 LIGO Data Analysis II Rory Smith
12:30 - 13:30 —Lunch —
13:30 - 15:00 LIGO Data Analysis III Rory Smith
15:00 - 15:30 —Coffee Break —
15:30 - 17:00 LIGO Data Analysis IV Rory Smith

Wednesday 7th February (Gingin)

7:30 - 8:30 Journey to Gingin
9:00 - 10:15 Astrophysics of LIGO Sources I Jade Powell
10:15 - 11:00 —Coffee Break and Tour (10:15) —
11:00 - 12:30 Astrophysics of LIGO Sources II Jade Powell
12:30 - 13:45 —Lunch and Tours (12:30, 13:00) —
14:45 - 15:00 How Ligo Works I Rob Ward
15:00 - 15:30 —Coffee Break —
15:30 - 17:00 How Ligo Works II Rob Ward
17:00 - 18:30 —BBQ Dinner —
18:30 - 19:30 Journey back to Perth


  • Multimessener Astronomy (Day 1): jupyter, sao-ds9, LALsuite, python, numpy, scipy, matplotlib, emcee, pandas, astropy, specutils
  • Pulsar Timing Arrays (Day 1): docker
  • LIGO Data analysis (Day 2): LALsuite, python, numpy, scipy, matplotlib, emcee, pandas
  • Astrophysics of LIGO sources (Day 3): jupyter, python, numpy, scipy, matplitlib
  • LIGO operation (Day 3):

Required Prep

Multimessenger (Day 1):

Input files can be found here.

Pulsar Timing Arrays (Day 1):

Instructions can be found here and one can download input data here.

LIGO Analysis (Day 2):

Input data can be downloaded from here. Data visualization tutorial found here.

LIGO Astrophysics (Day 3):

Please download the jupyter notebook here.

LIGO operation (Day 3):

Please download the jupyter notebook here.

Gingin AIGO Tours
Group 1 (10:15-10:45)
Kendell Ackley
Kyla Adams
Pascal Elahi
David Gozzard
Ronniy Joseph
Soheil Koushan
Paul Lasky
Lucy Strang
Xi Wang
Group 2 (12:30-13:00)
Debatri Chattopadhyay
Erica Coxton
Fransisco Hernandez
Marcus Lower
Madeline Marshall
Jade Powell
Daniel Price
Aaron Robotham
Rory Smith
Group 3 (13:00-13:30)
Rodrigo Cañas
Lisa Drummond
Kate Harborne
Bella Nasirudin
Rhys Poulton
Nandini Sahu
Nikhil Saran
Ling Sun
Robert Ward