China’s Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio telescope (FAST) has identified some new pulsars in the universe, and the most amazing thing about these discoveries is that they have come within one year of FAST’s trial period.

According to experts, it usually takes about three to five years for a large radio telescope to complete trial operations and make some new findings.

Two new pulsars were discovered in August this year

Astronomers have named two of the newly-discovered pulsars as J1931-01 and J1859-01. They were discovered in August this year during drift-scanning of the southern galactic region by FAST.

pulsar J1931-01 lies at a distance of about 4,100 light years from Earth and has a rotation period of 0.59 seconds.

J1859-01 is located about 16,000 light years away from Earth and has a rotation period of 1.83 seconds. Australia’s Parkes radio telescope has also confirmed the discovery of these two pulsars.

What are pulsars?

Pulsars are the remnants of dead stars. They are highly magnetized, rotating neutron stars that can spin at very high speeds. They are small in size but extremely dense and emit different beams of electromagnetic radiation. Discovery of every new pulsar offers astronomers a chance to study the radio waves emitted by pulsars and to learn about matter through which these radio waves passed before being detected by a radio telescope.

The first discovery of a pulsar was made on November 28, 1967 by British astronomers Antony Hewish and Jocelyn Bell Burnell. Since that time, astronomers have identified more than 2,700 pulsars in the universe. The Milky Way is estimated to have around 100 million pulsars—a figure based on an estimate of the number of stars that have undergone supernova explosions.

FAST is the world’s biggest single-dish radio telescope

FAST is currently the world’s biggest single-dish radio telescope. Its construction was completed in September last year, and since that time has been undergoing trial operations. FAST is located in a natural depression in China’s Guizhou Province. The size of the receiving area of this telescope is almost equal to about 30 football fields.

Engineers have given FAST capability to look further than any other radio telescope in the world, and this telescope is definitely using that ability to discover new objects in the universe. Experts believe this telescope will remain the world leader until the completion of the Square Kilometer Array telescope that is aimed to be built in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.