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  • richardmitnick 3:26 pm on January 11, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "NANOGrav finds possible ‘first hints’ of low-frequency gravitational wave background", Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell discovered pulsars, , , ,   

    From Green Bank Observatory and NANOGrav: “NANOGrav finds possible ‘first hints’ of low-frequency gravitational wave background” 

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    Green Bank Radio Telescope, West Virginia, USA
    Green Bank Radio Telescope, West Virginia, USA

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    From Green Bank Observatory

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    From From NANOGrav

    2021-01-11
    Jill Malusky

    1
    Credit: NANOGrav/T. Klein.

    In data gathered and analyzed over 13 years, the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves (NANOGrav) has found an intriguing low-frequency signal that may be attributable to gravitational waves.

    NANOGrav researchers studying the signals from distant pulsars – small, dense stars that rapidly rotate, emitting beamed radio waves, much like a lighthouse – have used radio telescopes to collect data that may indicate the effects of gravitational waves, as reported recently in The Astrophysical Journal Letters [below].

    Women in STEM – Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell Discovered pulsars.

    Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell discovered pulsars with radio astronomy. Jocelyn Bell at the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory, Cambridge University, taken for the Daily Herald newspaper in 1968. Denied the Nobel.

    Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell at work on first plusar chart 1967 pictured working at the Four Acre Array in 1967. Image courtesy of Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory.

    NANOGrav has been able to rule out some effects other than gravitational waves, such as interference from the matter in our own solar system or certain errors in the data collection. These newest findings set up direct detection of gravitational waves as the possible next major step for NANOGrav and other members of the International Pulsar Timing Array (IPTA), a collaboration of researchers using the world’s largest radio telescopes.

    IPTA-International Pulsar Timing Array

    IPTA-International Pulsar Timing Array-Clockwise from upper left: Effelsberg (DE), Nancay (FR), Arecibo (PR), Parkes (AU), Lovell Telescope (UK), Westerbork (NL), and GBT (USA).

    It is incredibly exciting to see such a strong signal emerge from the data,” says Joseph Simon, lead researcher on the paper. “However, because the gravitational-wave signal we are searching for spans the entire duration of our observations, we need to carefully understand our noise. This leaves us in a very interesting place, where we can strongly rule out some known noise sources, but we cannot yet say whether the signal is indeed from gravitational waves. For that, we will need more data.”

    Gravitational waves are ripples in space-time caused by the movements of incredibly massive objects, such as black holes orbiting each other or neutron stars colliding. Astronomers cannot observe these waves with a telescope like they do stars and galaxies. Instead, they measure the effects passing gravitational waves have, namely tiny changes to the precise position of objects – including the position of the Earth itself.

    NANOGrav chose to study the signals from pulsars because they serve as detectable, dependable galactic clocks. These small, dense stars spin rapidly, sending pulses of radio waves at precise intervals toward Earth. Pulsars are in fact commonly referred to as the universe’s timekeepers, and this unique trait has made them useful for astronomical study.

    But gravitational waves can interrupt this observed regularity, as the ripples cause space-time to undergo tiny amounts of stretching and shrinking. Those ripples result in extremely small deviations in the expected times for pulsar signals arriving on Earth. Such deviations indicate that the position of the Earth has shifted slightly.

    By studying the timing of the regular signals from many pulsars scattered over the sky at the same time, known as a “pulsar timing array,” NANOGrav works to detect minute changes in the Earth’s position due to gravitational waves stretching and shrinking space-time.

    “NANOGrav has been building to the first detection of low frequency gravitational waves for over a decade and today’s announcement shows that they are on track to achieving this goal,” said Pedro Marronetti, NSF Program Director for gravitational physics. “The insights that we will gain on cosmology and galaxy formation are truly unparalleled.”

    NANOGrav is a collaboration of U.S. and Canadian astrophysicists and a National Science Foundation Physics Frontiers Center (PFC). Maura McLaughlin, Co-Director of the NANOGrav Physics Frontiers Center, added “We are so grateful for the support of the NANOGrav PFC, that’s allowed us to dramatically increase both the number of pulsars being timed and the number of participants working on data analysis over the past six years”.

    NANOGrav created their pulsar timing array by studying 47 of the most stably rotating “millisecond pulsars,” as reported in the January 2021 issue of the Astrophysical Journal Supplements [below]. Not all pulsars can be used to detect the signals that NANOGrav seeks – only the most stably rotating and longest-studied pulsars will do. These pulsars spin hundreds of times a second, with incredible stability, which is necessary to obtain the precision required to detect gravitational waves.

    Of the 47 pulsars studied, 45 had sufficiently long datasets of at least three years to use for the analysis. Researchers studying the data uncovered a spectral signature, a low-frequency noise feature, that is the same across multiple pulsars. The timing changes NANOGrav studies are so small that the evidence isn’t apparent when studying any individual pulsar, but in aggregate, they add up to a significant signature.

    Potential Next Steps

    In order to confirm direct detection of a signature from gravitational waves, NANOGrav’s researchers will have to find a distinctive pattern in the signals between individual pulsars. At this point, the signal is too weak for such a pattern to be distinguishable. Boosting the signal requires NANOGrav to expand its dataset to include more pulsars studied for even longer lengths of time, which will increase the array’s sensitivity. In addition, by pooling NANOGrav’s data together with those from other pulsar timing array experiments, a joint effort by the IPTA may reveal such a pattern.

    At the same time, NANOGrav is developing techniques to ensure the detected signal could not be from another source. They are producing computer simulations that help test whether the detected noise could be caused by effects other than gravitational waves, in order to avoid a false detection.

    “Trying to detect gravitational waves with a pulsar timing array requires patience. We’re currently analyzing over a dozen years of data, but a definitive detection will likely take a couple more. It’s great that these new results are exactly what we would expect to see as we creep closer to a detection,” says Scott Ransom, from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, and the current Chair of NANOGrav.

    Like light from distant objects, gravitational waves are a cosmic messenger signal – one that holds great potential for understanding “dark” objects, like black holes. In 2015, NSF’s Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) made the first direct observation of gravitational waves.

    LIGO and its counterparts Virgo in Europe and Kagra in Japan use purpose-built interferometry facilities to detect high-frequency gravitational waves.


    Caltech/MIT Advanced aLigo Hanford, WA, USA installation


    Caltech/MIT Advanced aLigo detector installation Livingston, LA, USA

    Cornell SXS, the Simulating eXtreme Spacetimes (SXS) project


    Gravitational waves. Credit: MPI for Gravitational Physics/W.Benger-Zib

    ESA/eLISA the future of gravitational wave research

    VIRGO Gravitational Wave interferometer, near Pisa, Italy

    KAGRA gravitational wave detector, Kamioka mine in Kamioka-cho, Hida-city, Gifu-prefecture, Japan (JP)

    However, unlike the transient signals detected by LIGO/Virgo/Kagra, low-frequency gravitational waves are persistent, requiring many years of data to detect. Over the past decade, NANOGrav has used existing radio telescopes to search for evidence of these low-frequency gravitational waves, which have the potential to help answer longstanding questions in astrophysics, including how massive black holes form and how galaxies merge.

    Throughout its work, NANOGrav has utilized data from two NSF-supported instruments: the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia and Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. With the recent collapse of the Arecibo Observatory’s 305-meter telescope, NANOGrav will be seeking alternate sources of data and working even more closely with their international colleagues. Although NANOGrav does not expect the situation to result in significant delays in detection due to years of very sensitive Arecibo data already contributing to their datasets, the loss of Arecibo is a terrible blow to science, and will impact NANOGrav’s ability to characterize the background and detect individual sources in the future. NANOGrav members are also saddened by the collapse and its impact on the staff and the island of Puerto Rico.

    The NANOGrav project receives support from National Science Foundation (NSF) Physics Frontiers Center award number 1430284. The Arecibo Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation operated under cooperative agreement (#AST-1744119) by the University of Central Florida (UCF) in alliance with Universidad Ana G. Méndez (UAGM) and Yang Enterprises (YEI), Inc. The Green Bank Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc.

    Publications referenced in this article:

    Gravitational Wave Search: https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/2041-8213/abd401

    Narrowband Dataset: https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/1538-4365/abc6a0

    Wideband Dataset: https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/1538-4365/abc6a1 For more information about NANOGrav, please visit our website at http://nanograv.org.

    See the full article here .


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    NANOGrav stands for North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves. As the name implies, NANOGrav members are drawn from across the United States and Canada and our goal is to study the Universe using gravitational waves. Gravitational waves are ripples in the fabric of space and time that cause objects to shrink and stretch by very, very small amounts. NANOGrav uses the Galaxy itself to detect gravitational waves with the help of objects called pulsars — exotic, dead stars that send out pulses of radio waves with extraordinary regularity. This is known as a Pulsar Timing Array, or PTA. NANOGrav scientists make use of some of the world’s best telescopes and most advanced technology, drawing on physics, computer science, signal processing, and electrical engineering. Our short term goal is to detect gravitational waves within the next decade, an event which may be the first direct detection ever. But detection is only the first step towards studying our Universe in a completely new and revolutionary way, and we are sure to make unexpected discoveries in the process.

    NANOGrav cooperates with similar experiments in Australia (the Parkes Pulsar Timing Array) and Europe (the European Pulsar Timing Array). Together, we make up the International Pulsar Timing Array, or IPTA. By sharing our resources and knowledge, we hope to usher in the era of gravitational wave astronomy more quickly and with greater impact.

    NANOGrav was founded in October 2007 and has since grown to over 60 members at over a dozen institutions. NANOGrav members have been awarded over $10M in competitive scientific grants and awards to perform NANOGrav-related research at their institutions.

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    Mission Statement

    Green Bank Observatory enables leading edge research at radio wavelengths by offering telescope, facility and advanced instrumentation access to the astronomy community as well as to other basic and applied research communities. With radio astronomy as its foundation, the Green Bank Observatory is a world leader in advancing research, innovation, and education.

    History

    60 years ago, the trailblazers of American radio astronomy declared this facility their home, establishing the first ever National Radio Astronomy Observatory within the United States and the first ever national laboratory dedicated to open access science. Today their legacy is alive and well.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:22 am on December 16, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Giant pulses detected in the pulsar PSR J1047−6709", , , , , , Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell discovered pulsars   

    From phys.org: “Giant pulses detected in the pulsar PSR J1047−6709” 


    From phys.org

    December 16, 2020
    Tomasz Nowakowski

    1
    A single-pulse stack of 200 successive pulses for PSR J1047−6709. The right panel shows the pulse energy variations for the pulse sequence. Credit: Sun et al., 2020.

    Using the Parkes radio telescope, Chinese astronomers have investigated an isolated pulsar known as PSR J1047−6709 and detected dozens of giant pulses during the bright state of this source. The finding is reported in a paper published in MNRAS.

    CSIRO/Parkes Observatory, located 20 kilometres north of the town of Parkes, New South Wales, Australia, 414.80m above sea level.

    Pulsars are highly magnetized, rotating neutron stars emitting a beam of electromagnetic radiation. They are usually detected in the form of short bursts of radio emission, however, some of them are also observed using optical, X-ray and gamma-ray telescopes. To date, most pulsars have been discovered using the Parkes Observatory in Australia.

    Some pulsars showcase the so-called giant pulses (GPs)—short-duration, burst-like radio emissions from a pulsar, with energies exceeding the average pulse energy by 10 times or even much more. So far, such activity has only been detected in 16 pulsars.

    Now, a team of astronomers led by S. N. Sun of the Xinjiang Astronomical Observatory in China, reports the finding of another addition to this short list. By analyzing the data from observations of the PSR J1047−6709 pulsar by the Parkes 64-meter radio telescope at 1,369 MHz, they discovered 75 GPs from this source. PSR J1047−6709 is an isolated pulsar with a spin period of 0.19 seconds and magnetic field strength at the light cylinder of some 702 G.

    “In this paper, we present the first detection of GPs in this pulsar using the Parkes 64-m radio telescope,” the researchers wrote in the study.

    First, the astronomers found that PSR J1047−6709 switches between weak and bright emission states. They assume that this state switching is most likely related to the variations of the current in the magnetospheric field of this pulsar.

    The study identified 75 GPs during the bright state of PSR J1047−670, whose energies are about 10 times larger than the average pulse energy. The brightest GP has a peak flux density at a level of approximately 19 Jy, which is 110 times higher than the peak flux density of the mean pulse profile. In general, the detected GPs have pulse widths ranging from 0.6 to 2.6 ms.

    Although more high time-resolution observations are needed to understand the nature of GPs reported in the paper, the astronomers noted that their study provides important information that could shed more light on the origin of such phenomena in pulsars.

    “We also compared the polarization properties of the GPs to those pulses in the bright state with the pulse energy less than 10 times the average pulse energy. (…) Although the GP profile is relatively narrow, they have similar profile shapes. (…) These similarities suggest that the emission mechanism is basically the same for GPs and the pulses in bright state with energy less than 10 times average pulse energy, which supports the idea that GPs are generated in the polar gap region for this pulsar,” the authors concluded.

    Women in STEM – Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell Discovered pulsars

    Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell discovered pulsars with radio astronomy. Jocelyn Bell at the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory, Cambridge University, taken for the Daily Herald newspaper in 1968. Denied the Nobel.

    Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell at work on first plusar chart 1967 pictured working at the Four Acre Array in 1967. Image courtesy of Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 7:14 am on July 28, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "An Infant Pulsar Defies Categorization", , , , , , Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell discovered pulsars, Pulsar Swift J1818.0–1607   

    From AAS NOVA: “An Infant Pulsar Defies Categorization” 

    AASNOVA

    From AAS NOVA

    27 July 2020
    Susanna Kohler

    1
    Artist’s illustration of a magnetar, a neutron star with powerful magnetic fields. [ESA]

    Pulsars have historically been classified into different categories — but the distinction between them may be blurrier than we thought. The discovery of the youngest pulsar yet observed is now raising questions about how we classify these extreme objects.

    2
    Artist’s illustration of an accretion-powered pulsar (left) and its small stellar companion (right), viewed within their orbital plane. [NASA Goddard SFC/Cruz deWilde]

    The Source of a Pulsar’s Power

    When a massive star explodes as a supernova at the end of its lifetime, an incredibly dense remnant with the mass of one or two Suns — but spanning only 20 km or so in diameter — is left behind. If this resulting neutron star is powerfully magnetized, it can emit a beam of radiation that sweeps across the Earth as the star spins, appearing to us as a pulsar.

    The pulsars that we’ve observed are classified into three categories based on what we think powers their emission:

    Rotation-powered pulsars Usually detected from their pulsed radio emission, this is the most commonly observed type of pulsar. These rapidly rotating stars gradually spin down over time. Their lost rotational energy powers the particle acceleration that produces the emission we observe.
    Accretion-powered pulsars These pulsars occur in binaries and accrete matter from their companion stars. Pulsed X-ray radiation is produced by rotating hot spots caused when the accretion flow strikes the surface of the pulsar.
    Magnetically-powered pulsars These bodies, known as magnetars, are the most magnetized objects in the universe, sporting magnetic fields of around 1014–1015 Gauss (compare this to Earth’s magnetic field, which is less than one Gauss!). The decay of their unstable magnetic field powers the emission of high-energy radiation, particularly at X-ray and gamma-ray wavelengths.

    But what if these pulsar categories aren’t as distinct as we think they are? Observations of a very recently born pulsar, described in a publication led by Paolo Esposito (Scuola Superiore IUSS and INAF, Italy), are now challenging our classifications.

    4
    The source Swift J1818, as observed by the XMM-Newton spacecraft. [Adapted from Esposito et al. 2020]

    ESA/XMM Newton

    Neither Here Nor There

    The source Swift J1818.0–1607 was first discovered in March 2020 as a flaring outburst of X-ray radiation. Esposito and collaborators present X-ray observations of the source using the Swift Observatory, XMM-Newton [above], and NuSTAR, all of which paint the picture of an incredibly young — just 240 years, a relative baby on cosmic scales! — magnetar undergoing an outburst.

    NASA Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory

    NASA/DTU/ASI NuSTAR X-ray telescope

    3
    Profile of a bright radio pulse from the source Swift J1818, as observed by the Sardinia Radio Telescope. [Adapted from Esposito et al. 2020]

    But Swift J1818 has its quirks. Of the roughly 30 magnetars we’ve discovered, Swift J1818 spins faster than any of them, with a period of just 1.36 seconds. Its quiescent luminosity is lower than we’d expect given its young age. And follow-up radio observations with the Sardinia Radio Telescope in Italy reveal that Swift J1818 also exhibits the strong and short radio pulses expected for a rotation-powered pulsar.

    Sardinia Radio Telescope based in Pranu Sanguni, near Sant’Andrea Frius and San Basilio, about 35 km north of Cagliari (Sardinia, Italy), altitude 600 m (2,000 ft)

    Esposito and collaborators’ observations lead them to conclude that Swift J1818 is a peculiar magnetar with properties that straddle those of rotationally and magnetically powered pulsars. This makes this newborn the latest in a small collection of oddball young neutron stars with diverse properties, suggesting that there may still be much we don’t know about the driving forces behind pulsar emission, and how this changes over a pulsar’s lifetime.

    Citation

    “A Very Young Radio-loud Magnetar,” P. Esposito et al 2020 ApJL 896 L30.
    https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/2041-8213/ab9742

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    Women in STEM – Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell Discovered pulsars.

    Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell discovered pulsars with radio astronomy. Jocelyn Bell at the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory, Cambridge University, taken for the Daily Herald newspaper in 1968. Denied the Nobel.

    Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell at work on first plusar chart 1967 pictured working at the Four Acre Array in 1967. Image courtesy of Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory.

    Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell 2009

    Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell (1943 – ), still working from http://www. famousirishscientists.weebly.com

    Biography

    British astrophysicist, scholar and trailblazer Jocelyn Bell Burnell discovered the space-based phenomena known as pulsars, going on to establish herself as an esteemed leader in her field.Who Is Jocelyn Bell Burnell?
    Jocelyn Bell Burnell is a British astrophysicist and astronomer. As a research assistant, she helped build a large radio telescope and discovered pulsars, providing the first direct evidence for the existence of rapidly spinning neutron stars. In addition to her affiliation with Open University, she has served as dean of science at the University of Bath and president of the Royal Astronomical Society. Bell Burnell has also earned countless awards and honors during her distinguished academic career.

    Early Life

    Jocelyn Bell Burnell was born Susan Jocelyn Bell on July 15, 1943, in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Her parents were educated Quakers who encouraged their daughter’s early interest in science with books and trips to a nearby observatory. Despite her appetite for learning, however, Bell Burnell had difficulty in grade school and failed an exam intended to measure her readiness for higher education.

    Undeterred, her parents sent her to England to study at a Quaker boarding school, where she quickly distinguished herself in her science classes. Having proven her aptitude for higher learning, Bell Burnell attended the University of Glasgow, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in physics in 1965.

    Little Green Men

    In 1965, Bell Burnell began her graduate studies in radio astronomy at Cambridge University. One of several research assistants and students working under astronomers Anthony Hewish, her thesis advisor, and Martin Ryle, over the next two years she helped construct a massive radio telescope designed to monitor quasars. By 1967, it was operational and Bell Burnell was tasked with analyzing the data it produced. After spending endless hours pouring over the charts, she noticed some anomalies that did not fit with the patterns produced by quasars and called them to Hewish’s attention.

    Over the ensuing months, the team systematically eliminated all possible sources of the radio pulses—which they affectionately labeled Little Green Men, in reference to their potentially artificial origins—until they were able to deduce that they were made by neutron stars, fast-spinning collapsed stars too small to form black holes.

    Pulsars and Nobel Prize Controversy

    Their findings were published in the February 1968 issue of Nature and caused an immediate sensation. Intrigued as much by the novelty of a woman scientist as by the astronomical significance of the team’s discovery, which was labeled pulsars—for pulsating radio stars—the press picked up the story and showered Bell Burnell with attention. That same year, she earned her Ph.D. in radio astronomy from Cambridge University.

    However, in 1974, only Hewish and Ryle received the Nobel Prize for Physics for their work. Many in the scientific community raised their objections, believing that Bell Burnell had been unfairly snubbed. However, Bell Burnell humbly rejected the notion, feeling that the prize had been properly awarded given her status as a graduate student, though she has also acknowledged that gender discrimination may have been a contributing factor.

    Life on the Electromagnetic Spectrum

    Nobel Prize or not, Bell Burnell’s depth of knowledge regarding radio astronomy and the electromagnetic spectrum has earned her a lifetime of respect in the scientific community and an esteemed career in academia. After receiving her doctorate from Cambridge, she taught and studied gamma ray astronomy at the University of Southampton. Bell Burnell then spent eight years as a professor at University College London, where she focused on x-ray astronomy.

    During this same time, she began her affiliation with Open University, where she would later work as a professor of physics while studying neurons and binary stars, and also conducted research in infrared astronomy at the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh. She was the Dean of Science at the University of Bath from 2001 to 2004, and has been a visiting professor at such esteemed institutions as Princeton University and Oxford University.

    Array of Honors and Achievements

    In recognition of her achievements, Bell Burnell has received countless awards and honors, including Commander and Dame of the Order of the British Empire in 1999 and 2007, respectively; an Oppenheimer prize in 1978; and the 1989 Herschel Medal from the Royal Astronomical Society, for which she would serve as president from 2002 to 2004. She was president of the Institute of Physics from 2008 to 2010, and has served as president of the Royal Society of Edinburgh since 2014. Bell Burnell also has honorary degrees from an array of universities too numerous to mention.

    Personal Life

    In 1968, Jocelyn married Martin Burnell, from whom she took her surname, with the two eventually divorcing in 1993. The two have a son, Gavin, who has also become a physicist.

    A documentary on Bell Burnell’s life, Northern Star, aired on the BBC in 2007.


    Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Purnell at Perimeter Institute Oct 26, 2018.

    See the full article here .


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    1

    AAS Mission and Vision Statement

    The mission of the American Astronomical Society is to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the Universe.

    The Society, through its publications, disseminates and archives the results of astronomical research. The Society also communicates and explains our understanding of the universe to the public.
    The Society facilitates and strengthens the interactions among members through professional meetings and other means. The Society supports member divisions representing specialized research and astronomical interests.
    The Society represents the goals of its community of members to the nation and the world. The Society also works with other scientific and educational societies to promote the advancement of science.
    The Society, through its members, trains, mentors and supports the next generation of astronomers. The Society supports and promotes increased participation of historically underrepresented groups in astronomy.
    The Society assists its members to develop their skills in the fields of education and public outreach at all levels. The Society promotes broad interest in astronomy, which enhances science literacy and leads many to careers in science and engineering.

    Adopted June 7, 2009

     
  • richardmitnick 9:53 am on June 14, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Closing in on the cosmic mystery of fast radio bursts", ASKAP radio telescope in Western Australia, , , , , , Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell discovered pulsars, Professor Duncan Lorimer from West Virginia University first discovered fast radio bursts in 2007.   

    From CSIROscope: “Closing in on the cosmic mystery of fast radio bursts” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    12 June 2020
    Annabelle Young

    1
    Our ASKAP radio telescope in Western Australia [below] has detected the precise location of four fast radio bursts. Image: Sam Moorfield.

    Imagine you’re part of a team working to solve today’s biggest mystery in astronomy. Well, our very own Dr Shivani Bhandari is on that team and she just led a recent breakthrough.

    The team is the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) CRAFT survey science team. And they’ve been investigating the phenomenon known as fast radio bursts.

    Professor Duncan Lorimer from West Virginia University first discovered fast radio bursts in 2007. It was an unexpected discovery while he was analysing data from our Parkes radio telescope (aka ‘The Dish’).

    CSIRO/Parkes Observatory, located 20 kilometres north of the town of Parkes, New South Wales, Australia, 414.80m above sea level

    Fast radio bursts are brief explosions in the distant Universe. They are extremely bright. They release more energy in a millisecond than our Sun emits in 80 years. See video below for a visual explainer.

    Fast radio bursts are the hottest topic in astronomy. These bright bursts baffle researchers. But they’re pretty sure whatever is causing them is associated with an extreme astrophysical environment. The hunt is on to solve this cosmic mystery.

    ASKAP pinpoints location of one-off radio burst 4 billion light years away.

    Neighourhood galaxy watch

    ASKAP is a survey telescope, based in remote Western Australia. And to date it has revealed some vital clues about fast radio bursts. In 2017, it detected its first fast radio burst after just eight hours of searching. Then in 2018, it found 20 more, almost doubling the number of known bursts. And then in 2019, it traced a fast radio burst to its originating galaxy six billion light years from Earth.

    Now, this is where Shivani’s research comes in [The Astrophysical Journal Letters]. Using a specially designed detector on ASKAP, Shivani and her team found the exact location of four new fast radio bursts.

    Then astronomers conducted follow-up observations with the world’s largest optical telescopes.

    ESO VLT at Cerro Paranal in the Atacama Desert, •ANTU (UT1; The Sun ),
    •KUEYEN (UT2; The Moon ),
    •MELIPAL (UT3; The Southern Cross ), and
    •YEPUN (UT4; Venus – as evening star).
    elevation 2,635 m (8,645 ft) from above Credit J.L. Dauvergne & G. Hüdepohl atacama photo,

    Frederick C Gillett Gemini North Telescope Maunakea, Hawaii, USA, Altitude 4,213 m (13,822 ft)

    Keck Observatory, operated by Caltech and the University of California, Maunakea, Hawaii, USA.4,207 m (13,802 ft), above sea level,


    Shivani used these images to study the neighbourhood surrounding each burst, providing clues about their origins.

    “I wanted to see if there were any patterns in the sort of galaxies that host fast radio bursts. Similarities between their neighbourhoods could suggest a common cause,” Shivani said.

    Pieces of the puzzle

    Shivani’s research is the first detailed study of the galaxies that host fast radio bursts. It rules out several of the more extreme theories put forward to explain their origins.

    “The precisely localised fast radio bursts came from the outskirts of their home galaxies. This removes the possibility they have anything to do with supermassive black holes,” Shivani said.

    Even more surprising, the astronomers found all four bursts came from massive galaxies with modest star-forming rates. Very similar to our own Milky Way galaxy.

    This means the CRAFT team has also ruled out other theories like extremely bright exploding stars and cosmic strings. Other ideas like collisions of compact stars, such as white dwarfs and neutron stars are still looking good.

    Glowing commendations

    Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell was a postgraduate student in 1967 when she first detected rapidly spinning neutron stars now known as ‘pulsars’. Now a legend in international astronomy, Dame Jocelyn praised Shivani’s research.

    “Positioning the sources of fast radio bursts is a huge technical achievement and moves the field on enormously,” Dame Jocelyn said.

    “We may not yet be clear exactly what is going on, but now, at last, options are being ruled out.”

    2
    Pioneer of pulsars Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell-Burnell (right) and Dr Shivani Bhandari (left) in 2018.

    Shivani and the ASKAP CRAFT team continue to lead the world in identifying the location of fast radio bursts. Finding and localising more bursts will lead to a better understanding of their galaxy hosts. And ultimately solve the mystery of what causes them.

    Our ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Western Australia. CSIRO acknowledges the Wajarri Yamatji as the traditional owners of the MRO site.

    ___________________________________________________

    Women in STEM – Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell Discovered pulsars

    Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell discovered pulsars with radio astronomy. Jocelyn Bell at the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory, Cambridge University, taken for the Daily Herald newspaper in 1968. Denied the Nobel.

    Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell at work on first plusar chart 1967 pictured working at the Four Acre Array in 1967. Image courtesy of Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory.

    Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell 2009

    Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell (1943 – ), still working from http://www. famousirishscientists.weebly.com

    Biography

    British astrophysicist, scholar and trailblazer Jocelyn Bell Burnell discovered the space-based phenomena known as pulsars, going on to establish herself as an esteemed leader in her field.Who Is Jocelyn Bell Burnell?
    Jocelyn Bell Burnell is a British astrophysicist and astronomer. As a research assistant, she helped build a large radio telescope and discovered pulsars, providing the first direct evidence for the existence of rapidly spinning neutron stars. In addition to her affiliation with Open University, she has served as dean of science at the University of Bath and president of the Royal Astronomical Society. Bell Burnell has also earned countless awards and honors during her distinguished academic career.

    Early Life

    Jocelyn Bell Burnell was born Susan Jocelyn Bell on July 15, 1943, in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Her parents were educated Quakers who encouraged their daughter’s early interest in science with books and trips to a nearby observatory. Despite her appetite for learning, however, Bell Burnell had difficulty in grade school and failed an exam intended to measure her readiness for higher education.

    Undeterred, her parents sent her to England to study at a Quaker boarding school, where she quickly distinguished herself in her science classes. Having proven her aptitude for higher learning, Bell Burnell attended the University of Glasgow, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in physics in 1965.

    Little Green Men

    In 1965, Bell Burnell began her graduate studies in radio astronomy at Cambridge University. One of several research assistants and students working under astronomers Anthony Hewish, her thesis advisor, and Martin Ryle, over the next two years she helped construct a massive radio telescope designed to monitor quasars. By 1967, it was operational and Bell Burnell was tasked with analyzing the data it produced. After spending endless hours pouring over the charts, she noticed some anomalies that did not fit with the patterns produced by quasars and called them to Hewish’s attention.

    Over the ensuing months, the team systematically eliminated all possible sources of the radio pulses—which they affectionately labeled Little Green Men, in reference to their potentially artificial origins—until they were able to deduce that they were made by neutron stars, fast-spinning collapsed stars too small to form black holes.

    Pulsars and Nobel Prize Controversy

    Their findings were published in the February 1968 issue of Nature and caused an immediate sensation. Intrigued as much by the novelty of a woman scientist as by the astronomical significance of the team’s discovery, which was labeled pulsars—for pulsating radio stars—the press picked up the story and showered Bell Burnell with attention. That same year, she earned her Ph.D. in radio astronomy from Cambridge University.

    However, in 1974, only Hewish and Ryle received the Nobel Prize for Physics for their work. Many in the scientific community raised their objections, believing that Bell Burnell had been unfairly snubbed. However, Bell Burnell humbly rejected the notion, feeling that the prize had been properly awarded given her status as a graduate student, though she has also acknowledged that gender discrimination may have been a contributing factor.

    Life on the Electromagnetic Spectrum

    Nobel Prize or not, Bell Burnell’s depth of knowledge regarding radio astronomy and the electromagnetic spectrum has earned her a lifetime of respect in the scientific community and an esteemed career in academia. After receiving her doctorate from Cambridge, she taught and studied gamma ray astronomy at the University of Southampton. Bell Burnell then spent eight years as a professor at University College London, where she focused on x-ray astronomy.

    During this same time, she began her affiliation with Open University, where she would later work as a professor of physics while studying neurons and binary stars, and also conducted research in infrared astronomy at the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh. She was the Dean of Science at the University of Bath from 2001 to 2004, and has been a visiting professor at such esteemed institutions as Princeton University and Oxford University.

    Array of Honors and Achievements

    In recognition of her achievements, Bell Burnell has received countless awards and honors, including Commander and Dame of the Order of the British Empire in 1999 and 2007, respectively; an Oppenheimer prize in 1978; and the 1989 Herschel Medal from the Royal Astronomical Society, for which she would serve as president from 2002 to 2004. She was president of the Institute of Physics from 2008 to 2010, and has served as president of the Royal Society of Edinburgh since 2014. Bell Burnell also has honorary degrees from an array of universities too numerous to mention.

    Personal Life

    In 1968, Jocelyn married Martin Burnell, from whom she took her surname, with the two eventually divorcing in 1993. The two have a son, Gavin, who has also become a physicist.

    A documentary on Bell Burnell’s life, Northern Star, aired on the BBC in 2007.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:33 am on April 28, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Searching Pulsars for Planets", , , , , Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell discovered pulsars,   

    From AAS NOVA: “Searching Pulsars for Planets” 

    AASNOVA

    From AAS NOVA

    27 April 2020
    Susanna Kohler

    1
    Artist’s illustration of a multi-planet system orbiting a millisecond pulsar. [NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (SSC)]

    Are there more hidden exoplanets lurking around extreme pulsar hosts? A recent study explores a well-observed set of pulsars in the hunt for planetary companions.

    2
    An artist’s illustration showing a network of pulsars whose precisely timed flashes of light are observed from Earth. Could some of these pulsars host planets? [David Champion/NASA/JPL]

    Ushering in the Age of Exoplanets

    The first planets ever confirmed beyond our solar system were discovered in 1992 around the pulsar PSR B1257+12. By studying the pulses from this spinning, magnetized neutron star, scientists confirmed the presence of two small orbiting companions. Two years later, a third planet was found in the same system — and it seemed that pulsars showed great promise as hosts for exoplanets.

    But then the discoveries slowed. Other detection methods, such as radial velocity and transits, dominated the emerging exoplanet scene. Of the more than 4,000 confirmed exoplanets we’ve discovered overall, a grand total of only six have been found orbiting pulsars.

    Is this dearth because pulsar planets are extremely rare? Or have we just not performed enough systematic searches for pulsar planets? A new study led by Erica Behrens (The Ohio State University) addresses this question by using a unique dataset to explore rapidly spinning millisecond pulsars, looking for signs of hidden planets.

    The Advantage of Precise Clocks

    How are pulsar planets found? Pulsars have beams of hot radiation that flash across our line of sight each time they spin. The regularity of these flashes is remarkably stable, and when we observe them over long periods of time, we can predict the arrival time of the pulses with a precision of microseconds!

    4
    Sample periodograms for two pulsars. The top panel includes a simulated planet signal injected into the data, producing a strong peak at the planet’s orbital period. The bottom panel is an actual periodogram for one of the pulsars in this study, showing no evidence of a planetary companion. [Adapted from Behrens et al. 2020]

    Because these pulses are so predictable, any perturbation that might change their timing can be measured and modeled. In particular, the presence of a companion body around the pulsar will cause both objects to orbit the system’s center of mass, introducing a periodic signature in the pulsar’s pulse arrival times. This fluctuation in the pulse timing allows us to measure the period and mass of potential companions.

    A Multi-Use Dataset

    To search for these signatures in pulse data, Behrens and collaborators turn to observations of 45 separate millisecond pulsars, which were made as part of the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves (NANOGrav) project.

    NANOGrav’s primary goal is to use the precise timing of these pulsars to measure the warping of spacetime caused by gravitational waves. But in the process of this work, the project has been carefully monitoring pulse arrival times for these pulsars for 11 years, producing a remarkably detailed dataset in which we can search for evidence of planets orbiting any of the 45 pulsars.

    5
    Lower limits of detectable masses in the 11-year NANOGrav data set, as shown with black lines. The colored data shows the masses of the least massive 10% of confirmed exoplanets we’ve detected with other methods. Pulsar timing provides the ability to detect remarkably low-mass companion bodies.[Behrens et al. 2020]

    Pushing Down to Moon Masses

    Looking for periodic signals in the data, Behrens and collaborators rule out the presence of planets that have periods between 7 and 2,000 days. By injecting simulated signals into the data, the authors show that their analysis is sensitive to companions with masses of less than the Earth — in fact, for some pulsars, they’ve eliminated the possibility of all companions with more than a fraction of the mass of our Moon!

    This study shows the incredible power and sensitivity of extended pulsar monitoring in the hunt for small exoplanets. While it may well be true that pulsar planets are very rare objects, those out there can’t stay hidden for long.

    Citation

    “The NANOGrav 11 yr Data Set: Constraints on Planetary Masses Around 45 Millisecond Pulsars,” E. A. Behrens et al 2020 ApJL 893 L8.

    https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/2041-8213/ab8121

    __________________________________________________________
    Women in STEM – Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell

    Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell, discovered pulsars with radio astronomy. Jocelyn Bell at the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory, Cambridge University, taken for the Daily Herald newspaper in 1968. Denied the Nobel.

    Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell at work on first plusar chart 1967 pictured working at the Four Acre Array in 1967. Image courtesy of Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory.

    Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell 2009

    Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell (1943 – ), still working from http://www. famousirishscientists.weebly.com

    Biography

    British astrophysicist, scholar and trailblazer Jocelyn Bell Burnell discovered the space-based phenomena known as pulsars, going on to establish herself as an esteemed leader in her field.Who Is Jocelyn Bell Burnell?
    Jocelyn Bell Burnell is a British astrophysicist and astronomer. As a research assistant, she helped build a large radio telescope and discovered pulsars, providing the first direct evidence for the existence of rapidly spinning neutron stars. In addition to her affiliation with Open University, she has served as dean of science at the University of Bath and president of the Royal Astronomical Society. Bell Burnell has also earned countless awards and honors during her distinguished academic career.

    Early Life

    Jocelyn Bell Burnell was born Susan Jocelyn Bell on July 15, 1943, in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Her parents were educated Quakers who encouraged their daughter’s early interest in science with books and trips to a nearby observatory. Despite her appetite for learning, however, Bell Burnell had difficulty in grade school and failed an exam intended to measure her readiness for higher education.

    Undeterred, her parents sent her to England to study at a Quaker boarding school, where she quickly distinguished herself in her science classes. Having proven her aptitude for higher learning, Bell Burnell attended the University of Glasgow, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in physics in 1965.

    Little Green Men

    In 1965, Bell Burnell began her graduate studies in radio astronomy at Cambridge University. One of several research assistants and students working under astronomers Anthony Hewish, her thesis advisor, and Martin Ryle, over the next two years she helped construct a massive radio telescope designed to monitor quasars. By 1967, it was operational and Bell Burnell was tasked with analyzing the data it produced. After spending endless hours pouring over the charts, she noticed some anomalies that did not fit with the patterns produced by quasars and called them to Hewish’s attention.

    Over the ensuing months, the team systematically eliminated all possible sources of the radio pulses—which they affectionately labeled Little Green Men, in reference to their potentially artificial origins—until they were able to deduce that they were made by neutron stars, fast-spinning collapsed stars too small to form black holes.

    Pulsars and Nobel Prize Controversy

    Their findings were published in the February 1968 issue of Nature and caused an immediate sensation. Intrigued as much by the novelty of a woman scientist as by the astronomical significance of the team’s discovery, which was labeled pulsars—for pulsating radio stars—the press picked up the story and showered Bell Burnell with attention. That same year, she earned her Ph.D. in radio astronomy from Cambridge University.

    However, in 1974, only Hewish and Ryle received the Nobel Prize for Physics for their work. Many in the scientific community raised their objections, believing that Bell Burnell had been unfairly snubbed. However, Bell Burnell humbly rejected the notion, feeling that the prize had been properly awarded given her status as a graduate student, though she has also acknowledged that gender discrimination may have been a contributing factor.

    Life on the Electromagnetic Spectrum

    Nobel Prize or not, Bell Burnell’s depth of knowledge regarding radio astronomy and the electromagnetic spectrum has earned her a lifetime of respect in the scientific community and an esteemed career in academia. After receiving her doctorate from Cambridge, she taught and studied gamma ray astronomy at the University of Southampton. Bell Burnell then spent eight years as a professor at University College London, where she focused on x-ray astronomy.

    During this same time, she began her affiliation with Open University, where she would later work as a professor of physics while studying neurons and binary stars, and also conducted research in infrared astronomy at the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh. She was the Dean of Science at the University of Bath from 2001 to 2004, and has been a visiting professor at such esteemed institutions as Princeton University and Oxford University.

    Array of Honors and Achievements

    In recognition of her achievements, Bell Burnell has received countless awards and honors, including Commander and Dame of the Order of the British Empire in 1999 and 2007, respectively; an Oppenheimer prize in 1978; and the 1989 Herschel Medal from the Royal Astronomical Society, for which she would serve as president from 2002 to 2004. She was president of the Institute of Physics from 2008 to 2010, and has served as president of the Royal Society of Edinburgh since 2014. Bell Burnell also has honorary degrees from an array of universities too numerous to mention.

    Personal Life

    In 1968, Jocelyn married Martin Burnell, from whom she took her surname, with the two eventually divorcing in 1993. The two have a son, Gavin, who has also become a physicist.

    A documentary on Bell Burnell’s life, Northern Star, aired on the BBC in 2007.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    1

    AAS Mission and Vision Statement

    The mission of the American Astronomical Society is to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the Universe.

    The Society, through its publications, disseminates and archives the results of astronomical research. The Society also communicates and explains our understanding of the universe to the public.
    The Society facilitates and strengthens the interactions among members through professional meetings and other means. The Society supports member divisions representing specialized research and astronomical interests.
    The Society represents the goals of its community of members to the nation and the world. The Society also works with other scientific and educational societies to promote the advancement of science.
    The Society, through its members, trains, mentors and supports the next generation of astronomers. The Society supports and promotes increased participation of historically underrepresented groups in astronomy.
    The Society assists its members to develop their skills in the fields of education and public outreach at all levels. The Society promotes broad interest in astronomy, which enhances science literacy and leads many to careers in science and engineering.

    Adopted June 7, 2009

     
  • richardmitnick 1:22 pm on October 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "A chance encounter with a pulsar", , , , , , Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell discovered pulsars,   

    From CSIROscope: “A chance encounter with a pulsar” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    22 October 2019
    Louise Jeckells

    1
    The ASKAP radio telescope in all it’s glory.

    When you think you’ve seen it all, look again – there might be a pulsar staring back at you.

    Our scientists accidentally stumbled upon a pulsar, which is not an easy, or simple, task.

    Ok, hold on – what is a pulsar?

    When a giant star explodes, the core it leaves behind is a neutron star
    Neutron stars are roughly 10 km in radius and about 1.4 times heavier than the Sun
    A teaspoon of neutron star material would weigh about 10 million tons
    A highly-magnetized rotating neutron star that emits a beam of electromagnetic radiation (think of a lighthouse) is a pulsar.

    Astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell discovered the first pulsar in 1967.

    Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell, discovered pulsars with radio astronomy. Jocelyn Bell at the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory, Cambridge University, taken for the Daily Herald newspaper in 1968. Denied the Nobel.

    Today, astronomers have discovered most of the brighter and slower pulsars using large telescopes like our Parkes Radio Telescope (aka The Dish).

    CSIRO/Parkes Observatory, located 20 kilometres north of the town of Parkes, New South Wales, Australia

    Emil Lenc is a research scientist with our Astronomy and Space Science team. He’s not a pulsar astronomer. Emil works on the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) in remote Western Australia. His job is to put the telescope through its paces. To experiment with innovative ways to process telescope data.

    SKA Square Kilometer Array

    But Emil, alongside a group of other scientists, discovered one of these highly-magnetized rotating neutron stars. It’s called PSR J1431-6328. Very creative.

    3
    The densely packed matter of a pulsar spins at incredible speeds, and emit radio waves that can be observed from Earth. Credit: Swinburne Astronomy Productions/CAASTRO.

    The accidental discovery

    In May, PhD student Andrew Zic planned to observe the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri – the closest star to the Sun. He wanted to better understand the flaring process and the implications for life on exoplanets around that star. But his four-day observation helped discovered something new.

    During the Proxima Centauri observation, Emil wanted to test a new feature on ASKAP. The feature gave ASKAP the ability to see in circular polarisation. This is where the wave component of light from a source rotates in a circular motion. This form of light is not common in astronomical sources but can be seen in flaring stars and some pulsars.

    “Our eyes can’t distinguish between circularly polarised light and unpolarised light. But ASKAP has the equivalent of polaroid sunglasses that can help highlight such sources against the glare of thousands of unpolarised sources,” Emil said.

    “It worked a treat. Proxima Centauri stood out like a sore thumb. But I noticed another weaker source at the edge of the image. I had one of those ‘hmm, that’s weird’ moments.”

    Emil let the Variable and Slow Transients (VAST) team that he collaborates with know of the potential discovery. They gathered clues from any previous observations to track down the culprit. Was it a flare star, a new pulsar, or perhaps something else?

    “My colleague Shi Dai used the Parkes Radio Telescope to confirm that our mystery source had periodic pulses and was indeed a newly discovered pulsar.”

    A rare sighting

    Not only was this the first pulsar discovered with ASKAP but also the first pulsar revealed by its circular polarisation. As it turns out, it’s also in the top 90 fastest spinning pulsars (out of about 2700 known pulsars). And it’s spinning at a rate of around 360 times a second!

    “When you’re looking at the sky for the first time through a new instrument, you’re bound to find something fascinating. In this case, there was nothing else in the field. It’s very rare you have something that sticks out so much.”

    “There are hints the pulsar we discovered is part of a binary system,” Emil explained.

    A binary system is simply one in which two objects orbit around a common centre of mass. That is, they are gravitationally bound to each other. Binary systems with pulsars are of immense importance to astronomers as they allow them to test our understanding of gravity.

    “Being part of this system would affect the timing of the pulsar ever so slightly depending on whether it is heading towards us or away from us during its orbit around a companion.”

    The team has been given extra time with the Parkes Radio Telescope to get a better estimate of the timing. And to see if they can find evidence of its companion.

    If you’d like to read more, these findings have been published in The Astrophysical Journal.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
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