Chinese researchers discovered more than 660 previously undiscovered rotating neutron stars (pulsars), using the largest FAST radio telescope in the world.
“The FAST project development is in its heyday and the stable operation by our observatory equipment has made a great contribution” – Xinhua News Agency quotes Jiang Peng, chief engineer at FAST. FAST’s exceptional performance in signal interception enabled it to achieve higher results than similar projects.
One type of neutron star is the pulsar. They are remnants of large, burned-out luminaries. Although their radius is small, they are dense enough to have a mass that exceeds that of the Sun.
Pulsars emit pulses with a very strict frequency. Because the magnetic poles of these stars rotate, the “pulsating radiation” can be seen. Their radiation is only visible when directed at the Earth. It’s similar to a bright beam of sunlight from a lighthouse that becomes visible when it turns toward the observer.
This is FAST.
FAST (Five Hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope), was constructed in 2016 in Guizhou province, southern China. It was operational in January 2020. It is a radio telescope that has a full aperture measuring 500 meters in diameter. It covers an area equivalent to 30 football pitches. It cost $185 million.
It is situated in a mountainous region in a natural Karst depression. To minimize electromagnetic interference from radio and television stations, radars, and other emitting devices, over 9,000 people had their homes moved within 5km of the facility during construction.