Pulsars: precision tools for understanding the Universe
Pulsars, the rapidly spinning neutron-star remnants of massive stellar collapse, are celebrated tools for performing a variety of precision astrophysical studies. I will discuss my primary research work with these fascinating objects, which focuses on observational tests of gravitational theory, and constraining models of compact stellar and binary evolution.
High-precision pulsar timing provides some of the most stringent constraints on the predictions made by general relativity and alternative theories. I will describe tests using highly relativistic systems such as the astonishing double pulsar, as well as the effort to directly detect gravitational waves -- a "holy grail" in validating general relativity -- with the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves, which uses the distances between Earth and several millisecond-period pulsars as arms of a Galactic-scale GW detector.