East-arm of the Molonglo Telescope on a cool winter morning. Credit: Marcus Lower, ARC Centre of Gravitational Wave Discovery (OzGrav)
Original Published Date: 
Friday, March 20, 2020

Full article issued by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery.

A study led by a PhD student, Marcus Lower, at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery (OzGrav), has examined 280 pulsars—a type of rotating neutron star—to develop a statistical method similar to the one used for analysing gravitational-wave events detected by LIGO and Virgo. The results show that spin noise seems to decrease with pulsar age and that there is a scaling relationship between spin noise strength, how quickly a pulsar spins and how fast its spin is slowing down over time.

The discovery is important because pulsars are well-known for their use as incredibly stable astrophysical clocks. Their regularity, used to measure their radio pulses, has led to some of the most exciting tests of Einstein’s general theory of relativity and allowed scientists to examine the behaviour of the extremely dense matter inside neutron stars.

Researchers used the Molonglo Telescope based near Canberra, Australia, which celebrated its 50th birthday in 2015 and can perform spin-tracking observations of hundreds of pulsars every two weeks. This enabled OzGrav researchers to find three new 'glitch' events and measure the strength of the spin noise in 300 pulsars. 

Photo credit: 

East-arm of the Molonglo Telescope on a cool winter morning. Credit: Marcus Lower, ARC Centre of Gravitational Wave Discovery (OzGrav).