New research, led by the ARC Centre of Excellence in Gravitational Wave Discovery (OzGrav) has highlighted through simulations how a space-based laser interferometer will be able to detect the weaker signals of in-spiral binary neutron stars when the two massive objects are still some distance apart.
A double neutron star system comprises of two neutron stars orbiting each other, produces periodic disturbances in the surrounding space-time, much like ripples spreading on a pond surface. These ‘ripples’ are called gravitational-waves.
The study, led by Ph.D. student Mike Lau, predicts that gravitational waves from binary neutron star systems, along with binary white dwarf systems, will be detected by the future space-based observatory, known as the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) mission.
The paper is a collaboration of OzGrav working with Monash Univerity and Swinburne University of Technology, along with international partners at the University of Birmingham, University of Copenhagen, and Universitá degli studi Milano Bicocca. The results were published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society,
Lau, the first author of the paper, compares his team to ‘astro-paleontologists’: “[It’s] Like learning about a dinosaur from its fossil, we piece together the life of a binary star from their double neutron star fossils,” he said.