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200,000 private PCs help unearth 24 pulsars

Last Updated: Friday, August 30, 2013 - 14:50

Washington: Scientists have used a computer cloud, with computing power of 200,000 private PCs, to discover 24 pulsars - stellar remnants with extreme physical properties.

Lead author Benjamin Knispel, researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute/AEI) in Hannover, said that they could only conduct our search thanks to the enormous computing power provided by the Einstein@Home volunteers.

He said that through the participation of the public, we discovered 24 new pulsars in our Milky Way, which had previously been missed-and some of them are particularly interesting.

Knispel and his colleagues analyzed data from the Parkes Multi-beam Pulsar Survey, conducted from 1997 to 2001, with the 64-meter antenna of CSIRO`s Parkes radio telescope in southeast Australia.

Knispel said that the search for new radio pulsars is very computer intensive and to determine the a priori unknown characteristics of the pulsar, e.g., its distance or its rotation period, we have to very finely comb through wide parameter ranges.

They used the radio telescopes near Parkes, at the Jodrell Bank Observatory, and at Effelsberg for follow-up observations and to characterize their discoveries in more detail.

Ralph Eatough, scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy (MPIfR) in Bonn and second author of the publication, said that there are different kinds of pulsars, just like there are different animal species in a zoo. Some are more common than others-in some cases, only a handful of specimens are known.

Out of the 24 pulsars discovered, six are in binary systems orbiting the common center of mass with their stellar partner.

The study has been published in The Astrophysical Journal.


First Published: Friday, August 30, 2013 - 14:50

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