What are continuous gravitational waves?

Schematic of a continuous gravitational wave buried in detector noise.

In 2016, the LIGO Scientific Collaboration announced the first direct observations of short bursts of gravitational waves, emitted during the inspiral and merger of black holes of tens of solar masses.

Here we target a different type of gravitational wave signal: the long continuous waveform expected from a rapidly spinning neutron star. Because the star's sky location, spin rate, and deformation from axisymmetry are unknown, there is a large parameter space to search, and the sensitivity is limited by the amount of computing power available.

The Einstein@Home volunteer computing project provides the lion's share of our compute cycles and on it we deploy our state-of-the-art search techniques.

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