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China’s FAST Telescope Discovers Pulsar Binary System with Shortest Orbital Period

China’s Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) has discovered a binary pulsar with an orbital period of 53.3 minutes, which is the shortest known period for a pulsar binary system. The research, primarily carried out by a team led by scientists from the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC), was published in the journal Nature on Wednesday. China’s FAST Telescope Discovers Pulsar Binary System with Shortest Orbital Period.

Pulsars, also known as fast-spinning neutron stars, are formed from the collapsed cores of massive dying stars through supernova explosions. The recently found binary pulsar, named PSR J1953+1844 (M71E), belongs to the spider pulsar system and exhibits the highest observed orbiting angular velocity to date. An aerial photo taken on June 22, 2023, depicts China’s Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST) undergoing maintenance in Guizhou Province, southwest China.

China’s FAST telescope detected a binary pulsar with an orbital period of 53.3 minutes, establishing the shortest known period for a pulsar binary system. Observing pulsars is a significant task for FAST as it helps confirm the presence of gravitational radiation and black holes while contributing to the resolution of various fundamental questions in physics. According to Jiang Peng, the chief engineer of the telescope, this discovery represents the first instance of identifying the intermediate state of evolution from redback pulsars to black widow pulsars, thereby bridging a gap in the spider pulsar evolution theory.

China's FAST Telescope Discovers Pulsar Binary System with Shortest Orbital Period

China’s FAST Telescope Identifies Binary Pulsar System with Unprecedentedly Short Orbital Period

The research, led by scientists from the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC), was published in the journal Nature on Wednesday. China’s FAST telescope identified a binary pulsar with an orbital period of 53.3 minutes, the shortest known period for a pulsar binary system. Han also mentioned that the high sensitivity and detection capabilities of FAST enable the confirmation of the evolutionary path.

Observing pulsars is a crucial task for FAST, as it contributes to confirming the presence of gravitational radiation and black holes, as well as addressing numerous other fundamental questions in physics. An aerial photo taken on June 22, 2023, shows China’s Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST) undergoing maintenance in Guizhou Province, southwest China. China’s FAST telescope identified a binary pulsar with an orbital period of 53.3 minutes, the shortest known period for a pulsar binary system.

Shortest Orbital Period for a Pulsar Binary System Detected by China’s FAST Telescope

FAST is situated in a naturally deep and round karst depression in Guizhou Province, southwest China’s Pingtung County. It began formal operation in January 2020 and opened to the world on March 31, 2021. The newly discovered binary pulsar, named PSR J1953+1844 (M71E), belongs to the spider pulsar system and displays the largest observed orbiting angular velocity thus far. It is considered the world’s most sensitive radio telescope.

According to Jiang Peng, the chief engineer of the telescope, this discovery represents the first instance of identifying the intermediate state of evolution from redback pulsars to black widow pulsars, thus bridging a gap in the spider pulsar evolution theory. The research, conducted primarily by a team led by scientists from the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC), was published in the journal Nature on Wednesday.

China’s FAST Telescope Discovers Pulsar Binary System with Shortest Orbital Period

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