A rendering of a rapidly spinning pulsar in a binary system. A companion star is distorted by the pulsar’s enormous gravity and slowly but surely evaporating. Image: Knispel/Clark/Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics/NASA GSFC
Using the computing power of the citizen-science project Einstein@Home to analyse data from NASA’s Fermi Space Telescope, researchers have identified a rapidly spinning pulsar, a so-called “black widow,” that is slowly but surely evaporating a companion star
A paper in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society describes the analysis, showing the spinning neutron star, otherwise known as a pulsar, is spinning at 377 times per second. The findings were made possible by the Einstein@Home project, a volunteer network of thousands of home computers that, when idle, sifted through years of Fermi data.
According to the University of Manchester, which participated in the research, the analysis would have taken 500 years to complete using a single computer core. Using the Einstein@Home network, it was done in just two months.
“It had been suspected for years that there is a pulsar, a rapidly rotating neutron star, at the heart of the source we now know as PSR J2039-5617,” said Lars Nieder, a Ph.D. student at the Max ...