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China’s gigantic telescope identifies over 800 pulsars

GUIYANG, July 25 (Xinhua) — China’s Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST), the world’s largest single-dish radio telescope, has identified over 800 new pulsars since its launch in 2016, its operator said Tuesday.

The number of new pulsars discovered by FAST is more than three times the total number of pulsars discovered by foreign telescopes during the same period, said Jiang Peng, chief engineer of the telescope.

Pulsars, or fast-spinning neutron stars, originate from the imploded cores of massive dying stars through supernova explosions.

Pulsar observation is an important task for FAST, which can be used to confirm the existence of gravitational radiation and black holes, and help find answers to many other major questions in physics.

In recent years, FAST has achieved notable success in the study of fast radio bursts, neutral hydrogen, and pulsars, greatly expanding the scope of the human exploration of the universe.

This year, the telescope has identified a binary pulsar with an orbital period of 53 minutes, the shortest known period for a pulsar binary system, and found key evidence for the existence of nanohertz gravitational waves, among other key achievements.

Dubbed the “China Sky Eye,” the telescope is located in a naturally deep and round karst depression in the southwestern province of Guizhou. It has a reception area equal to 30 standard football fields.

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