P1050 - Initial Follow-up of Potential Pulsar Discoveries from Re-processing of the HTRU-S LowLat Galactic Plane Survey

Also known as: P1050

Brief description Pulsars are the collapsed cores of once-massive stars. They weigh about 1.4 times the mass of our Sun, and spin at rates of up to an incredible 700 times per second. They also have very strong magnetic fields, up to multiple quadrillions of times stronger than the Earth's magnetic field. As a pulsar spins, beams of radio waves sweep out from the pulsar's magnetic poles, causing it to act like a cosmic lighthouse. This produces a regular, pulsing signal which we can detect with radio telescopes like Parkes. Over 2900 pulsars have been found in our Galaxy to date, and more than half of them have been discovered with Parkes. Pulsars can be useful in many different areas of science, giving us the chance to understand many fundamental questions of physics. They can be used to test theories of gravity such as Einstein's General Relativity, to look for the gravitational waves from massive black holes spiralling together in distant space, to study the clouds of dust and gas which fill our Galaxy, or to probe the structure of the ultra-dense nuclear matter which makes up each pulsar, which is so dense that a teaspoon of it would weigh more than Mt. Everest. The goal of our project is to study some of the most recent pulsars which Parkes has discovered and to determine the ways in which each of these new pulsars might be used in order to help answer some of these questions.

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