Electromagnetic counterparts to gravitational wave bursts

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Oxford Physics


The student, Ms Lauren Rhodes, will work on the radio counterparts of gravitational wave (GW) burst (neutron star mergers) and the closely-related phenomenon of short Gamma Ray Bursts (sGRBs). The core resource of the project will be the guaranteed time that our team has via 'ThunderKAT', which is an approved 5-year large survey programme on the newly-commissioned MeerKAT radio telescope (project supervisor Fender is co-lead of ThunderKAT). We expect to follow up a number of events after Adv. LIGO switches back on in early 2019, and this will allow us to explore the diversity in the properties of the electromagnetic counterparts of GW bursts, and measure the kinetic feedback from these events. This core MeerKAT programme will be supported with multiwavelength campaigns, as well as a parallel radio programme on AMI-LA in the north.

In concert with the radio observations, the theoretical interpretation of the radio events will be explored. At the moment very simple models based upon 'normal' GRB afterglows are being applied to the one known GW afterglow, that of GW170817. We will explore the range of parameter space allowed by the observations in terms of simple models, as well as exploring the role that numerical models might have to play in terms of interpreting the results.

As ever with such projects, we cannot predict exactly what will occur, and we will retain a flexible and dynamic approach. In particular, the observational and modelling skills learned will be relevant to other synchrotron transients (e.g. the recently-discovered and unexplained transient 'AT2018cow').


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ST/S505638/1 30/09/2018 29/09/2022
2112224 Studentship ST/S505638/1 30/09/2018 30/08/2022 Lauren Elizabeth Rhodes