The Einstein@Home project connecting home and office PCs of volunteers from around the world to a supercomputer allowed scientists from the Max Planck Institutes for Gravitational Physics and for Radio Astronomy to analyze archival data from a radio telescope in Australia using new search methods.
The search yielded 24 pulsars, remnants of dying stars with extreme physical properties that will serve as test beds for studying for Einstein's general theory of relativity, they said.
"We could only conduct our search thanks to the enormous computing power provided by the Einstein@Home volunteers," study leader Benjamin Knispel at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Hannover said. "Through the participation of the public, we discovered 24 new pulsars in our Milky Way, which had previously been missed -- and some of them are particularly interesting."
Pulsars are the remains of explosions of massive stars that leave strongly magnetized and extremely dense neutron stars in their wake.
Pulsars rapidly rotate and emit a beam of radio waves along their magnetic field axis, like the spotlight of a lighthouse, which allows them to be observed if radio wave beam sweeps in the directions of Earth.
Knispel and his colleagues analyzed data from a survey conducted from 1997 to 2001 by the Parkes radio telescope in southeast Australia.
"The search for new radio pulsars is very computer intensive," Knispel explained.
The analysis of the archival Parkes data was completed in just eight months thanks to the thousands of volunteers from around the world who "donate" idle compute cycles on their home and office PCs to Einstein@Home, he said.
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