Zadko Telescope

Multi-messenger astronomy

In collaboration with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), the Zadko telescope will perform optical follow-ups of gravitational wave candidate “events” to improve the confidence of a possible detection.

Gravitational waves are ripples of space-time created by violent events in the Universe such as mergers of black holes and neutron stars.

Their existence was predicted by Einstein's general theory of relativity in 1915. They offer a completely new spectrum in astronomy. Detection will revolutionise our understanding of the dynamics of space-time at the limits of strong gravity, allowing direct observation of the birth of black holes.

A multi-messenger approach to gravitational wave detection is one of the highest priority goals in the gravitational wave community. Above all, it will help us make the first detection of gravitational waves.

It allows gravitational wave candidates that are too weak to claim detection based on gravitational wave data alone to be associated with an optical signal that could provide strong confirmation.

The aims of this research are:

  1. To build and test search techniques for a distributed robotic telescope network that will respond to gravitational wave triggers automatically and promptly to enable co-detection of (coincident) optical outbursts within a few seconds.
  2. To obtain a quantitative understanding of optical transient noise and selection effects to enable optimisation of the search and detailed evaluation of the statistical significance of results.

When new data from advanced gravitational wave detectors (LIGO in the US and Virgo in Italy) becomes available, we aim:

  1. To implement routine real-time searching for coincidences between gravitational wave coalescence candidates and optical transient sources.
  2. To enable the achievement of the first coincident detection of a gravitational wave source and its optical counterpart.