Subcategory: STEM Research
Mario Diaz - University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
The era of Gravitational Wave Astronomy has started with the first detection of gravitational waves on September 14, 2015. The NSF funded LIGO observatories made two clear detections during the first observational campaign. The second one took place on December 26, 2016. In both cases the sources were binary black-holes mergers of stellar mass. The first LIGO observational campaign ended in mid January of 2016. Successive observational campaigns will be performed increasing further the sensitivity of the LIGO detectors. The next observational challenge, as improved sensitivity stretches the observable volume of the universe, is the detection of electromagnetic counterparts to a gravitational wave event. In the case of a compact binary system, where at least one of the stars is a neutron star, its tidal disruption is expected to emit electromagnetic radiation of a wide spectrum. In this poster I describe the creation of an international partnership under the initiative of the CREST funded Center for Gravitational Wave Astronomy at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. The purpose of this partnership is to participate in the optical band segment of the electromagnetic spectrum searches. The TOROS partnership (Transient Optical Robotic Observatory of the South) operates and secured observational time on several instruments worldwide. In this poster I present the first results of the TOROS project and the plans for future observations. I also describe the broader impact of these activities, which will involve high school students and the community at large, through a citizen science component.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): The author acknowledges funding from award NSF HRD-1242090.
Faculty Advisor: None Listed,