Pulsars are very interesting to scientists because they are special types of neutron stars. Small (about 10 miles in diameter) and dense
(one teaspoon weighs about a billion tons), they exhibit immense gravitational and magnetic forces not found on Earth.
The Large Area Telescope (LAT), built by SLAC for the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, collects information on high-energy gamma rays from
numerous sources in the sky.
Among these are small, elusive objects called pulsars, which spin up to hundreds of times per second.
Their name derives from the beams their magnetic fields produce as a result of this spin, which look like the pulsing beam of a lighthouse when,
by chance, they happen to sweep across our field of view.
The LAT has seen the gamma-ray signatures of more than 100 pulsars and is revolutionizing the study of
these flashy objects in gamma rays, which are the most energetic form of light.
A team led by postdoctoral researcher Matthew Kerr of the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC), and Columbia University
radio astronomer Fernando Camilo is reporting the use of new techniques for hunting pulsars.
They and their colleagues have found a way to look for likely pulsar candidates by combining observations from the LAT and the Parkes radio telescope in Australia.
This approach combines the broad reach of an all-sky telescope (the LAT) with the deep sensitivity of a radio telescope, which can view only a tiny part of
the sky at a time.
Pulsar PSR B1257+12, Image creidt: NASA/JPL, Caltech
So far, the discovery of five more rapidly rotating, or “millisecond” pulsars, including one particularly intriguing object, prove
that the technique is successful and likely to uncover many more pulsars in our galaxy. One especially interesting object discovered
with this technique seems to have a previously unknown waveform – a gamma-ray peak before and after each radio peak – an effect the
team could not explain using standard models of pulsar geometry.
This suggests that the radio part of the beam may originate at two distinct points above the object’s surface.
This variation increases the mystery and allure of these fascinating astrophysical phenomena.
This work is described in part in a paper published in the Astrophysical Journal (ApJ, 2012, 748, 2), and based in part on a KIPAC Tidbit by Jack Singal.
Millennia Old Astronomical Secret Revealed
In 1943, an ancient papyrus was bought by the Cairo museum.
It was written in Hieratic and although portions of it were eaten away by ants, it was a very precious ancient document.
The papyrus contained three separate books dealing with astronomy. One of the books was the Cairo Calendar, and now it reveals an ancient astronomical secret...
Big Bang Machine Discovers Unknown Particle
Physicists at Cern have not yet been able to confirm the existence of
the elusive "God particle", but they have nevertheless made another interesting discovery
Scientists announced that the Large Hadron Collider, often referred to as the Big Bang machine has detected an unknown particle composed of three quarks.
A New Riddle To Ponder:
'Dark Halo' Reveals An Astronomical Surprise
Surprisingly, some of the oldest galaxies in the Universe have three times more stellar mass, and so many more stars, than
all current models of galaxy evolution predict.
A new finding made by the Atlas3D international team, led by an Oxford University scientist, helped to find a way to remove
the 'halo' of dark matter that has clouded previous calculations.
Exotic Millions Of Years Old Dying Pulsar Still Kicking!
At an age of about 200 million years, this pulsar is the oldest and faintest isolated pulsar ever detected in X-rays but
it's spinning only slightly faster than one revolution per second!
Among isolated pulsars, it is over 10 times older than the previous record holder with an X-ray detection.
Astrophysicist Resolves Paradox With Radio Millisecond Pulsars
Celestial objects known as pulsars are still full of secrets. It is takes time and many efforts to learn all their secrets. Previous
studies reached the paradoxical conclusion that some millisecond pulsars are even older than the universe itself. It was time to resolve this paradox.