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FAST discovers record-setting binary pulsar

By Jiang Chenglong | | Updated: 2023-06-21 20:20
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An aerial view of FAST. [Photo/Xinhua]

Chinese scientists have used the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope to discover a binary pulsar with an orbital period of only 53 minutes, the shortest known period for a pulsar binary system.

The research was published in the international academic journal Nature online on Wednesday evening.

By utilizing the ultra-high sensitivity and strong detection capabilities of FAST, or the "China Sky Eye", the research team detected the system.

Additionally, the binary system was determined to be in an intermediate stage of the redback-to-black widow system evolution, which has filled a gap in the evolution theory of spider pulsars.

Furthermore, the orbital plane of the binary system is almost facing Earth, which is extremely rare. The research team consists of scientists from institutions including the National Astronomical Observatories and Yunnan Astronomical Observatories under the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

The reviewer with the journal described this discovery as a "very interesting pulsar binary system", and said the discovery of such a system suggests new and previously unknown processes in the evolution of spider pulsars.

Located in a naturally deep and round karst depression in Southwest China's Guizhou province, FAST started formal operation in January 2020 and officially opened to the world in late March 2021. It is believed to be the world's most sensitive radio telescope.

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