Radio Astronomers Discover 8 New Millisecond Pulsars With MeerKAT Telescope

Millisecond Pulsar Animation

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This animation exposes the leading view of a Millisecond Pulsar. Credit: NASA

A group of astronomers has in fact discovered 8 millisecond pulsars positioned within thick clusters of stars, called “globular clusters,” using South Africa’s MeerKAT radio telescope.

Millisecond pulsars are neutron stars, the most compact star comprehended, that spin as much as 700 times per second. This is the really first pulsar discovery using the MeerKAT antennas and it stems from the synergic work of 2 worldwide cooperations, TRAPUM and MeerTIME, with the findings detailed in a Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society paper that was simply recently launched.

Millisecond pulsars are really compact stars mainly consisted of neutrons, and are amongst the most serious products in deep area: they fill many many times the mass of the Earth in a sphere with a size of about 24 km; and spin at a rate of many rotations per second. They produce a beam of radio waves that are recognized by the observer at every rotation, like a lighthouse. The advancement of these products is very enhanced in the star-rich environments at the centers of globular clusters.

MeerKAT Antenna Night

A night view of a MeerKAT antenna. Credit: The South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO)

“It is really exciting to see the potential for finding a large number of new millisecond pulsars in Globular Clusters using the excellent MeerKAT telescope,” states Professor Ben Stappers, from The University of Manchester and co-PI of the TRAPUM job. “It is also a preview of what will be possible with the Square Kilometer Array telescope for which MeerKAT is one of the precursors.”

Lead author, Alessandro Ridolfi, a post-doctoral research study fellow at INAF and MPIfR mentioned: “We directed the MeerKAT antennas toward 9 globular clusters, and we discovered new pulsars in 6 of them!” Five of these new pulsars orbit around another star, and amongst these, called PSR J1823-3021G, is particularly remarkable: “Because of its highly elliptical orbit, and massive companion, this system is likely the result of an exchange of partners: following a ‘close encounter’: the original partner was expelled and replaced by a new companion star”, continues Ridolfi.

“It is really exciting to see the potential for finding a large number of new millisecond pulsars in Globular Clusters using the excellent MeerKAT telescope. It is also a preview of what will be possible with the Square Kilometre Array telescope for which MeerKAT is one of the precursors.”

Benjamin Stappers, Professor of Astrophysics at The University of Manchester

Tasha Gautam, doctoral researcher at the MPIfR in Bonn and co-author of the paper, explains: “This particular pulsar may have a high mass, more than 2 times the mass of the Sun, or it may be the really first confirmed system formed by a millisecond pulsar and a neutron star. If confirmed by existing additional observations, this would make this millisecond pulsar an effective laboratory for studying fundamental physics.”

The 8 new pulsars are just the idea of the iceberg: the observations that led to their discovery made use of almost 40 of the MeerKAT 64 antennas and focused simply on the primary locations of the globular clusters. 

The TRAPUM collaboration (the TRAnsients and PUlsars with MeerKAT) is amongst many Large Survey Proposals (LSP) licensed to use the MeerKAT telescope. It is co-led by Professor Stappers from The University of Manchester and and Professor Kramer (MPIfR/UoM). TRAPUM will search the sky for pulsars and transients using the really high level of level of sensitivity of MeerKAT. One of the areas they will search are Globular Clusters. This result was obtained in collaboration with MeerTIME, another MeerKAT LSP, and used their centers for tape-recording the details.

This work similarly operated as a testbed for the TRAPUM collaboration to far better method the fully-fledged globular cluster pulsar research study, which is currently in progress which makes use of all the existing 64 meals (thus extra getting in level of level of sensitivity). The research study will broaden the search to a lot more globular clusters, and will similarly survey their external locations.

Reference: “Eight new millisecond pulsars from the first MeerKAT globular cluster census” by A Ridolfi, T Gautam, P C C Freire, S M Ransom, S J Buchner, A Possenti, V Venkatraman Krishnan, M Bailes, M Kramer, B W Stappers, F Abbate, E D Barr, M Burgay, F Camilo, A Corongiu, A Jameson, P V Padmanabh, L Vleeschower, D J Champion, W Chen, M Geyer, A Karastergiou, R Karuppusamy, A Parthasarathy, D J Reardon, M Serylak, R M Shannon and R Spiewak, 18 March 2021, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stab790

Operated by SARAO, MeerKAT is the greatest radio telescope in the Southern hemisphere and among 2 SKA Observatory precursor instruments in South Africa. Located in the Karoo desert, the radio telescope will rapidly be widened with an additional 20 meals, bringing the total range of antennas as much as 84 and winding up being “MeerKAT+”. This will later be gradually included into the really first phase of the SKAO job, whose structure and building and construction will rapidly begin and will continue up till 2027. The at first medical observations of MeerKAT+ may begin as early as 2023, throughout the screening phases of the telescope.

TRAPUM is amongst the Large Survey Proposals dealing with MeerKAT and is an around the world collaboration, led by The University of Manchester and the MPIfR, and includes companies such as INAF, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) and the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO).

MeerTIME is similarly a Large Survey Proposal dealing with MeerKAT, led by the Swinburne University of Technology, and integrating many Australian companies in addition to INAF, University of Manchester, MPIfR, NRAO and SARAO.

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