Subjects for Thesis and PhD Thesis at the Cagliari Pulsar Group

  • 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 Telescope, IT.

    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 experiment.

  • 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 group staff.

    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