Astronomers have found a pulsar—a dense and quickly spinning neutron star sending radio waves into the cosmos—utilizing a low-frequency radio telescope in outback Australia.
The pulsar was detected with the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) telescope, in Western Australia’s distant Mid West area.
It is the primary time scientists have found a pulsar with the MWA however they imagine it will likely be the primary of many.
The discovering is an indication of issues to return from the multi-billion-dollar Sq. Kilometer Array (SKA) telescope. The MWA is a precursor telescope for the SKA.
Nick Swainston, a Ph.D. pupil on the Curtin College node of the Worldwide Middle for Radio Astronomy Analysis (ICRAR), made the invention whereas processing knowledge collected as a part of an ongoing pulsar survey.
“Pulsars are born on account of supernovae—when an enormous star explodes and dies, it could go away behind a collapsed core often known as a neutron star,” he mentioned.
“They’re about one and a half occasions the mass of the Solar, however all squeezed inside solely 20 kilometers, and so they have ultra-strong magnetic fields.”
Mr Swainston mentioned pulsars spin quickly and emit electromagnetic radiation from their magnetic poles.
“Each time that emission sweeps throughout our line of sight, we see a pulse—that is why we name them pulsars,” he mentioned. “You may think about it like an enormous cosmic lighthouse.”
“That is extremely quick in comparison with common stars and planets,” he mentioned. “However on the planet of pulsars, it is fairly regular.”
Dr. Bhat mentioned the discovering was made utilizing about one p.c of the big quantity of information collected for the pulsar survey.
“We have solely scratched the floor,” he mentioned. “Once we do that undertaking at full-scale, we should always discover lots of of pulsars within the coming years.”
Pulsars are utilized by astronomers for a number of functions together with testing the legal guidelines of physics beneath excessive situations.
“A spoonful of fabric from a neutron star would weigh thousands and thousands of tons,” Dr. Bhat mentioned.
“Their magnetic fields are a few of the strongest within the Universe—about 1000 billion occasions stronger than that we’ve got on Earth.”
“So we will use them to do physics that we won’t do in any of the Earth-based laboratories.”
Discovering pulsars and utilizing them for excessive physics can also be a key science driver for the SKA telescope.
MWA Director Professor Steven Tingay mentioned the invention hints at a big inhabitants of pulsars awaiting discovery within the Southern Hemisphere.
“This discovering is actually thrilling as a result of the info processing is extremely difficult, and the outcomes present the potential for us to find many extra pulsars with the MWA and the low-frequency a part of the SKA.”
“The research of pulsars is likely one of the headline areas of science for the multi-billion-dollar SKA, so it’s nice that our group is on the forefront of this work,” he mentioned.
Eight new millisecond pulsars found by MeerKAT
Discovery of a steep-spectrum low-luminosity pulsar with the Murchison Widefield Array, The Astrophysical Journal Letters, April 21, 2021
Outback radio telescope discovers dense, spinning, useless star (2021, April 21)
retrieved 21 April 2021
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