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Home > iSGTW - 6 October 2010 > Link of the Week - Einstein at home bags a pulsar

 

Link of the Week: Einstein@home bags a pulsar


Albert Einstein (c) Camera Press, K. of Ottawa

The Einstein@Home volunteer computing project, run on the BOINC platform to run distributed computing projects, usually   searches for gravity waves. (See previous iSGTW article.) However, a side project spotted a rare pulsar in radio observatory data.

Pulsars are rapidly spinning neutron stars; their rapid rotation causes the emission from the poles to sweep across the line-of-sight to the Earth, creating a periodic flash. Initially, most pulsars are energetic, rotating rapidly and emitting radiation in the X-ray region. But, over time, they “spin down;” many only emit at the frequency of radio waves.

This summer, a person at a home computer spotted PSR J2007+2722, later confirmed by ground-based observatories.

An article in the journal Science praised the efforts of citizen scientists, saying that “This result demonstrates the capability of 'consumer' computational power for realizing discoveries in astronomy and other data-driven science.”

Science, 2010. DOI: 10.1126/science.1195253  

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