Subject 1: "Search and Timing of Millisecond Pulsars in the context of the Pulsar Timing Array"
Pulsars, and in particular millisecond pulsars (MSPs), are the
Galaxy's best clocks and are thus an excellent tool for studying
anything that causes deviations in the rate at which they run; binary
motion, motion across the sky and any non-linear variations in the
distance and/or spacetime metric between the pulsar and the telescope,
such as the passage of a gravity wave. By making precision timing
observations of an array of such pulsars distributed on the sky, we
can investigate the stability of terrestrial clocks and improve our
understanding of Solar-system dynamics. We also have the exciting
possibility of making the first detection of gravity waves.
To achieve the objectives of the timing array project we need to
observe a large number of MSPs (about 20) as often as possible for
about four years. This is why we decided to set up a large
collaborative effort, that goes under the anme of EPTA (European
Pulsar Timing Array) involving all the largest single dish radio
telescopes in Europe: Jodrell Bank Radio Telescope, UK; Nancay Radio
Telescope, FR; Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope, NL; Effelsberg
Radio Telescope, D and, when available, the new Sardinia Radio
The PhD student working on EPTA data will be responsible for searching
for new pulsars and performing precision multitelescope pulsar timing
of specific targets of the EPTA observations. The purpose is to obtain
new measures e.g. of pulsar proper motions and parallaxes to better
establish the millisecond pulsar velocity, distance and luminosity
distributions. The student will also study binary systems to better
determine the range of neutron star masses and measure strong-field
gravity effects. The final aim of the collaborative project will be
the combination of the data from all the observatories in order to
establish a pulsar timing array. This array will ultimately allow
to test the presence of a gravitational wave background at a
gravitational wave frequency not achievable by any other conceivable
Subject 2: "A search of the Globular Cluster System for millisecond pulsar"
Globular clusters are rich in millisecond pulsars. As a class they
contain about 50% of the entire millisecond pulsar population. In a
pulsar search performed with the
Parkes radiotelescope in Australia in in 1993, we already
discovered several millisecond pulsar ( Manchester et al, 1991,
D'Amico et al, 1993 , Robinson et al, 1995. Recent
work has stressed once more the important role of the detection of
pulsars in the globular clusters for investigating both the dynamical
status of these systems and its relation with the evolutionary path of
the binaries embedded in them (e.g. Davis & Hansen 1998, Rasio,
Pfhal & Rappaport 1999). We are now involved in a new deep search
of the globular cluster system for millisecond pulsar at Parkes, using the center beam of the new
sensitive multibeam receiver system.
With this experiment, we have already detected ten new millisecond
pulsar in four clusters for which no associated pulsars were
previously known. Four of them are already published ( D'Amico et al, 2001).
Confidential information on the others can be obtained contacting the
A variey of small projects for "Tesi di Laurea" are available in the context of this experiment.
The undregraduate student, after a one-month training period, is
expected to understand the basics of the data processing pipeline, and
will be involved in the analysis of data collected at Parkes on a
single selected cluster, and in the interpretation of the results.
Last update: 05-Nov-2008