China's FAST telescope detects record-breaking binary pulsar
GUIYANG, June 23 (Xinhua) -- China's FAST telescope identified a binary pulsar with an orbital period of 53.3 minutes, the shortest known period for a pulsar binary system.
The research, mainly conducted by a team led by scientists from the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC), was published in the journal Nature Wednesday.
Pulsars, or fast-spinning neutron stars, originate from the imploded cores of massive dying stars through supernova explosions. Pulsar observation is an important task for FAST, which can be used to confirm the existence of gravitational radiation and black holes, and help solve many other major questions in physics.
The binary pulsar, named PSR J1953+1844 (M71E), belongs to the spider pulsar system with the largest orbiting angular velocity so far. It was the first time to discover the middle state of evolving from redback pulsars to black widow pulsars, filling the gap in the evolution theory of spider pulsars, said Jiang Peng, chief engineer of the telescope.
Astronomical observations found that some pulsars have a companion star in a close orbit. "The orbital period of pulsars in evolution is quite short, and the distance between the two stars is very close, which poses a great challenge for observation," said Han Jinlin, researcher of NAOC.
Thanks to the high sensitivity and detection abilities of FAST, the evolutionary path can be confirmed, Han added.
Located in a naturally deep and round karst depression in Pingtang County, southwest China's Guizhou Province, FAST started formal operation in January 2020 and officially opened to the world on March 31, 2021. It is believed to be the world's most sensitive radio telescope.