Discovering Pulsars

David Cohen
David Cohen
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Topic 196273

I have been doing this for a while and I noticed that some people here have discovered pulsars. How does that work?

Thanks!

David

Bikeman (Heinz-Bernd Eggenstein)
Bikeman (Heinz-...
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Discovering Pulsars

Quote:

I have been doing this for a while and I noticed that some people here have discovered pulsars. How does that work?

Thanks!

David

Hi David,

There's a nice introductory text on the project's homepage that explains the whole pulsar search to quite some detail, it's definitely worth reading:

http://einstein.phys.uwm.edu/radiopulsar/html/index.php

In a nutshell, the raw data from the radio telescope (currently Arecibo) is sliced into segments and preprocessed first, creating many workunits that can be thought of as representing different parts of space in 3D (sky position and distance from Earth). those workunits are then delivered to the volunteers' PCs, the PCs crunch the data and send back results that basically consist of the best candidates for pulsars in the segment they were looking at. If, after postprocessing by the science team, a candidate sticks out sufficiently, some more manual work behind the scenes is initiated to check (via lookup in catalogs of known pulsars, reobservations, etc) whether a new pulsar was indeed found.

If a new pulsar is found, the volunteers who returned the strongest candidate signal (so to speak) will be credited with the discovery. There are always at least two volunteers involved for the strongest signal: results are accepted for postprocessing only after (usually) TWO PCs have returned sufficiently similar results for the same workunit (in order to make sure the result isn't broken by a defective PC etc).

I hope this and the link above answer your question? If not, please feel free to ask for more details.

Cheers
HBE

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