CSIRO telescope finds brightest pulsar yet

By Anna Macdonald

May 3, 2022

CSIRO’s ASKAP radio telescope has found a pulsar 10 times brighter than any previously detected. (AAP Image/ CSIRO)

A research team at the CSIRO-owned and -operated ASKAP radio telescope have found a pulsar 10 times brighter than any previously detected.

Pulsars are remnants of a rapidly rotating neutron star that emits two beams of polarised radio light. The team was able to identify the pulsar using astronomical ‘sunglasses’, a new method to capture polarised light. 

CSIRO’s Australia Telescope National Facility chief scientist Elaine Sadler called the results of the technique ‘incredible’.

“This speaks to all the great things we can expect from our telescopes and researchers as they constantly find new ways to answer some of our biggest questions,” said Sadler. “From ATCA to ASKAP, the Australia National Telescope Facility continues to provide wonderful access to our universe.”

“This was an amazing surprise. I didn’t expect to find a new pulsar, let alone the brightest. But with the new telescopes we now have access to, like ASKAP and its sunglasses, it really is possible,” said CSIRO researcher Yuanming Wang and lead author of the research.

Sydney Institute for Astronomy at the University of Sydney Tara Murphy commented: “We should expect to find more pulsars using this technique. This is the first time we have been able to search for a pulsar’s polarisation in a systematic and routine way. Because of its unusual properties, this pulsar was missed by previous studies, despite how bright it is.”


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