Travis Fichtenbauer, Sparrow Roch, Claire Bolda, Natalie Meyers & Herbert De Leon, “STARS@UWM: The Search for Pulsars”
Mentors: David Kaplan, Sarah Vigeland & Joseph Swiggum, Physics
Pulsars are a type of evolved star that are extremely dense and rotate with an extremely fast and reliable period, producing an intense beam of radiation comparable to the pulse of a lighthouse. This unique pulse allows for novel ways to study the universe, the most exciting of which being the potential to detect previously undiscovered gravitational waves, giving further evidence to Einstein’s theory of relativity. The Student Team of Astrophysics ResearcherS (STARS) was formed as a way for undergraduate students to be involved in the search for new pulsars and make a contribution towards the goals of the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves (NANOGrav). Students remotely observe from UWM using two of the world’s largest radio telescopes, the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia and Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, then analyze resulting data to discover and study these incredibly exotic neutron stars. Students at UWM also collaborate with other institutions around the country, including Franklin & Marshall College, University of Washington – Bothell, Kenyon College, Hillsdale College, West Virginia University, and more. Students from UWM have also participated in astronomy-related projects internationally in places such as China, Italy, India, South Africa, and Australia.