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Understanding gravity using a COMprehensive search for fast-spinning Pulsars And CompacT binaries


The description of gravity by Einstein's theory of general relativity has passed all its experimental tests with flying colours including the recent groundbreaking direct detection of gravitational waves. However, there still remain some glaring shortcomings, ranging from its irreconcilability with quantum mechanics to the dark energy that accelerates the expansion of our Universe. There are also several alternative theories that contend to be the best descriptor of gravity. Hence it is imperative to find new laboratories to test these theories and further our understanding of gravity. This is where pulsars, a special type of star, prove useful. Pulsars are remarkable laboratories in space. Observations of pulsars at radio wavelengths provide rare opportunities to understand how gravity works near strongly self-gravitating bodies, and provide clues on the state of matter at supra-nuclear densities. This provides important complementary knowledge to our understanding of gravity and nuclear physics compared to other experiments such as ground-based gravitational wave detectors. COMPACT is an ambitious project that aims to discover some of the most extreme classes of pulsar laboratories. The project will perform Petabyte-scale data acquisition and processing to search for two specific kinds of pulsars: (i) relativistic binary pulsars with orbital periods of just a few minutes to a few hours around other neutron stars, white dwarves or black holes and (ii) pulsars with extremely fast spin periods of the order of a millisecond or less. Even a single discovery of either class of pulsars has the potential to fundamentally change (or) solidify a huge range of poorly known physics from the internal composition of neutron stars, how they evolve in binaries, to our understanding of the effects of strongly gravitating bodies to the space-time in their vicinity. The survey also has immediate and profound implications for gravitational wave astronomy across multiple wavelengt


Net EU contribution
€ 2 496 563,00
Hofgartenstrasse 8
80539 Munchen

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Bayern Oberbayern München, Kreisfreie Stadt
Activity type
Research Organisations
Other funding
€ 0,00