From AAS NOVA: ” Einstein@Home Finds a Double Neutron Star”

AASNOVA

American Astronomical Society

2 December 2016
Susanna Kohler

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Artist’s impression of a double-pulsar system. A new double-neutron-star system was recently discovered using Einstein@Home, a program that analyzes data on home computers. [John Rowe Animations]

Have you been contributing your computer idle time to the Einstein@Home project? If so, you’re partly responsible for the program’s recent discovery of a new double-neutron-star system that will be key to learning about general relativity and stellar evolution.

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The 305-m Arecibo Radio Telescope, built into the landscape at Arecibo, Puerto Rico. [NOAO/AURA/NSF/H. Schweiker/WIYN]

The Hunt for Pulsars

Observing binary systems containing two neutron stars — and in particular, measuring the timing of the pulses when one or both companions is a pulsar — can provide highly useful tests of general relativity and binary stellar evolution. Unfortunately, these systems are quite rare: of ~2500 known radio pulsars, only 14 of them are in double-neutron-star binaries.

To find more systems like these, we perform large-scale, untargeted radio-pulsar surveys — like the ongoing Pulsar-ALFA survey conducted with the enormous 305-m radio telescope at Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. But combing through these data for the signature of a highly accelerated pulsar (the acceleration is a clue that it’s in a compact binary) is very computationally expensive.

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PSR J1913+1102’s L-band pulse profile, created by phase-aligning and summing all observations. [Adapted from Lazarus et al. 2016]

To combat this problem, the Einstein@Home project was developed.

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Einstein@home

My BOINC results:
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See the full article here.

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Einstein@Home is a World Year of Physics 2005 and an International Year of Astronomy 2009 project supported by the American Physical Society (APS) and by a number of international organizations.

Einstein@Home uses your computer’s idle time to search for weak astrophysical signals from spinning neutron stars (also called pulsars) using data from the LIGO gravitational-wave detectors, the Arecibo radio telescope, and the Fermi gamma-ray satellite. Einstein@Home volunteers have already discovered more than three dozens new neutron stars, and we hope to find many more in the future. Our long-term goal is to make the first direct detections of gravitational-wave emission from spinning neutron stars. Gravitational waves were predicted by Albert Einstein almost a century ago, but have never been directly detected. Such observations would open up a new window on the universe, and usher in a new era in astronomy.

To join this project go to BOINC, download the software and attach to the project. While you are at BOINC, review all of the projects and see what else might be of interest.

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Einstein@Home allows anyone to volunteer their personal computer’s idle time to help run the analysis of survey data in the search for pulsars. In a recent publication led by Patrick Lazarus (Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy), the Einstein@Home team announced the discovery of the pulsar PSR J1913+1102 — a member of what seems to be a brand new double-neutron-star system.

See the full article here .

Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

STEM Icon

Stem Education Coalition