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FAST sets milestone in pulsar discovery

By Liang Shuang | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2023-07-26 19:31

This aerial photo taken on June 23, 2023 shows China's Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST) in Southwest China's Guizhou province. [Photo/Xinhua]

The number of pulsars, or pulsating stars, discovered by China's FAST telescope has exceeded 800, scientists announced on Tuesday.

The Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope has entered an "eruptive" stage in yielding scientific achievements, the facility's operation and development center told Xinhua News Agency.

Located in Southwest China's Guizhou province, FAST can use its giant disc to detect the faintest signals emitted from deep space. Dubbed China's "heavenly eye", the telescope was launched in September 2016 and officially put to use in January 2020.

Pulsars are highly magnetized, fast-spinning neutron stars originating from the imploded cores of massive dying stars through supernova explosions. They have been a hot topic in astrophysics given their extreme density, brightness and rotational stability, which allows scientists to measure subtle celestial abnormalities such as gravitational waves.

The number of pulsars discovered by FAST is more than three times those discovered by all other telescopes in the world combined, they said, adding there have been several major achievements made with the help of FAST this year, including a binary pulsar system with an orbital cycle of just 53 minutes and key evidence for the existence of nanohertz gravitational waves.

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