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Collaborative Research: Breaking Barriers in Multi-messenger Astrophysics: The RITTU Partnership
PI:  Jason Nordhaus; Co-PI: (s): Manuela Campanelli, Carlos Lousto
Award:  NSF AST-2319326 Dates:  09/01/2023—08/31/2025; Funds:  $2,319,326


A new research and education partnership in astronomy will be developed between the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and Texas Tech University (TTU) with the aim of exploring how to break both disciplinary and cultural boundaries to solve key questions in neutron-star astrophysics. RIT hosts the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, one of the premier deaf education institutes in the world and TTU is a Hispanic Serving Institution. The two-year program will explore authentic pathways for Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing and Hispanic undergraduate students to join the RITTU partnership and participate in academic year preparation programs and summer research experiences. The students will acquire a set of skills that cross between theory and observations and will be supported by a dedicated mentoring team, thereby placing them in competitive positions for graduate programs or other STEM careers.

The next few years will herald a golden age for the astrophysics of neutron stars, which are compact stellar objects, often synonymous with pulsars, and which are one of the end stages of massive star evolution. Neutron stars and mergers of binary neutron stars can be observed through multiple messengers: gravitational waves (GWs), electromagnetic radiation and potentially neutrinos?offering unparalleled opportunities to answer fundamental questions in astrophysics. The program will involve two inter-related studies. The study of binary neutron star mergers will reveal the formation mechanism of the Universe?s heaviest elements, probe the generation and structure of the most powerful astrophysical jets, and elucidate the characteristics of the remnant population of massive stellar evolution. In the topic of neutron star astrophysics, the team will develop new tools to shed light on pulsar glitches and use pulsar timing observations to guide searches for burst and continuous GWs. This award advances the goals of the Windows on the Universe Big Idea.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.