China's gigantic telescope identifies over 740 pulsars

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This long-time exposure aerial photo taken on July 24, 2022 shows a drone performance over China's Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST) in southwest China's Guizhou Province. [Photo/Xinhua]

China's Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST), the world's largest single-dish radio telescope, has identified over 740 pulsars since its launch, the research team has announced.

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 solve many other major questions in physics.

Jiang Peng, chief engineer of the telescope, said the annual observation duration of FAST has exceeded 5,300 hours since it was completed in September 2016, with 30 to 40 terabytes of data received every day. More than 740 pulsars have been discovered so far.

More pulsar discoveries by FAST could help scientists find evidence of gravitational waves, or establish autonomously controlled time reference systems, Jiang added.

Dubbed as 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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