P858 - SUPERB - A SUrvey for Pulsars & Extragalactic Radio Bursts

Also known as: P858

Researchers: Evan Keane (Associated with)

Brief description We will survey the sky to find pulsars and fast radio bursts (FRBs). Pulsars, the remnants of supernova explosions that occur at the end of massive stars' lives, are reborn city-sized 'zombie stars' which rotate faster than a kitchen blender. They emit a beacon of radio light, detectable on Earth as a pulse once every time it rotates. The rotation of the star is so stable that we can use the radio pulses as the ticks of a cosmic clock. This means we can use them as tools for investigating physics, e.g. testing Einstein's General Theory of Relativity by examining the clocks' behaviour in warped space-times Pulsars are quite 'nearby' at only a few thousand lightyears, but FRBs are about a million times more distant. FRBs are one-off flashes of radio light, only recently discovered. Unlike pulsars we do not know what causes FRBs. A leading theory is that they are the bangs you get when an unstable pulsar collapses to a black hole. We will identify FRBs with Parkes and the Molonglo telescope (300 km from Parkes) in tandem. Using both telescopes together will enable us to zoom-in on the FRB region much better than ever before so that we can finally pinpoint the galaxies in which they occur, and solve this mystery once and for all. To make our discoveries in real time, i.e. 'live', we will perform very complex computing using super-fast GPUs, aka PC gaming cards.

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