Astronomers of the University of Manchester’s Jodrell Bank Observatory (UK) have led an international team which used the Parkes radio telescope in Australia to find a new kind of cosmic object which sends out radio flashes. These flashes are very short and very rare: one hundredth of a second long, the total time the objects are visible amounts to only about one tenth of a second per day.
The discovery will be published in this week’s issue of the journal Nature.
Eleven sources of flashes have been found in different parts of the plane of the Milky Way in a survey for radio pulsars, which are small, compressed, highly-magnetised, neutron stars that produce regular pulses as they rotate, like cosmic light-houses. While that survey found over 800 pulsars and is the most successful in history, it also uncovered this new type of star. Rather than searching only for the periodic trains of pulses, the astronomers developed new techniques for detecting single short bursts of radiation.
Julia Maddock | alfa
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