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Lars Nieder
Phone:+49 511 762-17491Fax:+49 511 762-2784

Pulsar Observation and Data Analysis

This group's main research aspects are computing-intense searches for and studies of pulsars - rapidly spinning neutron stars - through gamma-rays and gravitational waves. A particularly exciting focus is on extending searches to parameter spaces that in fact have been inaccessible before on computational grounds. Achieving this requires the development of efficient data analysis methodologies and the exploitation of powerful computing resources, such as the Einstein@Home volunteer supercomputer.

Pulsars are some of the most extreme objects in our Universe and important key probes for a wide range of fundamental physics. Yet many aspects are still poorly understood after decades of observations, primarily at radio wavelengths. Now gamma-ray observations with NASA’s Fermi Large Area Telescope, and future gravitational-wave observations with Advanced LIGO, provide complementary windows of unprecedented opportunities to discover and study new pulsars.


With the Large Area Telescope (LAT) aboard NASA's Fermi satellite, for the first time neutron stars were discovered via their periodic gamma-ray pulsations alone. Many of these stars are in fact invisible at other wavelengths. Continuously surveying the gamma-ray sky, the LAT cataloged several hundred unidentified sources, among which many are thought to be pulsars. However, extracting new pulsars and important science from LAT data is computationally limited and almost impossible with conventional methods.

Gamma-ray Pulsars

With the Large Area Telescope (LAT) aboard NASA's Fermi satellite, for the first time neutron stars were discovered via their periodic gamma-ray pulsations alone. Many of these stars are in fact invisible at other wavelengths. Continuously surveying the gamma-ray sky, the LAT cataloged several hundred unidentified sources, among which many are thought to be pulsars. However, extracting new pulsars and important science from LAT data is computationally limited and almost impossible with conventional methods.

Neutron stars are also among the prime target sources for current Earth-based laser-interferometric detectors such as LIGO, Virgo and GEO600. Gravitational-wave pulsars are neutron stars that continuously emit gravitational waves, for example due to nonaxisymmetric deformations. As most neutron stars are electromagnetically invisible, gravitational-wave observations might allow to reveal completely new populations of neutron stars. However, all-sky surveys for unknown gravitational-wave pulsars is an enormous computational challenge.

Gravitational-wave Pulsars

Neutron stars are also among the prime target sources for current Earth-based laser-interferometric detectors such as LIGO, Virgo and GEO600. Gravitational-wave pulsars are neutron stars that continuously emit gravitational waves, for example due to nonaxisymmetric deformations. As most neutron stars are electromagnetically invisible, gravitational-wave observations might allow to reveal completely new populations of neutron stars. However, all-sky surveys for unknown gravitational-wave pulsars is an enormous computational challenge.

 
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