A team of astronomers from the UK, USA, Australia, Italy and Canada using the CSIRO Parkes radio telescope in eastern Australia has found a new kind of cosmic object - small, compressed ’neutron stars’ that show no activity most of the time but once in a while spit out a single burst of radio waves. The discovery is published in this week’s issue of the journal Nature.
The new objects - dubbed Rotating Radio Transients or RRATs - are likely to be related to conventional radio pulsars (small stars that emit regular pulses of radio waves, up to hundreds of times a second). But the new objects probably far outnumber their old cousins, the scientists say.
Eleven RRATs have been found, first detected by the Parkes Multibeam Pulsar Survey and then observed again several times. Their isolated bursts last for between two and 30 milliseconds. In between, for times ranging from four minutes to three hours, they are silent.
Helen Sim | alfa
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