Radio astronomers discover 8 new millisecond pulsars

Tasha Gautam, PhD student at MPIfR Bonn and co-author of the article, explains: “This particular pulsar could have a high mass, more than 2 times the mass of the Sun, or it could be the first confirmed system formed by a pulsar. millisecond and a neutron star. If confirmed by current additional observations, this would make this millisecond pulsar a formidable laboratory for the study of fundamental physics ”.

The 8 new pulsars are only the tip of the iceberg: the observations which led to their discovery used only about forty MeerKAT 64 antennas and focused only on the central regions of the globular clusters.

The TRAPUM collaboration (TRAnsients and PUlsars with MeerKAT) is one of many Large-Scale Proposals (LSPs) approved for use with the MeerKAT Telescope. It is co-chaired by Professor Stappers of the University of Manchester and Professor Kramer (MPIfR / UoM). TRAPUM will search the sky for pulsars and transients using the extremely high sensitivity of MeerKAT. One of the places they will look is globular clusters. This result was achieved in collaboration with MeerTIME, another MeerKAT LSP, and used their infrastructure to capture the data.

This work has also served as a test bed for the TRAPUM collaboration in order to better plan the real globular cluster pulsar survey, which is currently underway and which uses all the current 64 parabolas (thus gaining in sensitivity). The survey will expand the search to many other globular groups and also examine their outer regions.

Operated by SARAO, MeerKAT is the largest radio telescope in the southern hemisphere and one of the two precursor instruments of the SKA observatory in South Africa. Located in the Karoo Desert, the radio telescope will soon be extended by 20 additional antennas, bringing the total number of antennas to 84 and becoming “MeerKAT +”. This will then be gradually integrated into the first phase of the SKAO project, whose construction will begin soon and will continue until 2027. The first scientific observations of MeerKAT + could begin as early as 2023, during the telescope test phases.

TRAPUM is one of the major survey proposals running on MeerKAT and is an international collaboration, led by the University of Manchester and the MPIfR, and includes institutions such as INAF, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) and the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO).

MeerTIME is also a large-scale survey proposal running on MeerKAT, led by Swinburne University of Technology, and integrating several Australian institutions as well as INAF, University of Manchester, MPIfR, NRAO and SARAO .

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