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High School Students Discover Pulsar With The Widest Orbit

High School Pulsar

A team of high school students have discovered a previously unseen pulsar—a rapidly spinning neutron star—which happens to have the widest orbit ever detected of any pulsar orbiting a neutron star, according to a National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) press release.

Its orbital path spans roughly 52 million kilometers, which is roughly the distance from Mercury to the Sun.

Joe Swiggum, a graduate student in astronomy and physics at West Virginia University who recently had a paper pertaining to the implications of the recently discovered pulsar accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal, was quoted in the release published on Friday as having said that the “discovery shows one of these objects in a really unique set of circumstances.”

Pulsars are some of the most extreme objects in the universe (…) The students’ discovery shows one of these objects in a really unique set of circumstances. (…) Its orbit is more than twice as large as that of any previously known double neutron star system (…) The pulsar’s parameters give us valuable clues about how a system like this could have formed. Discoveries of outlier systems like J1930-1852 give us a clearer picture of the full range of possibilities in binary evolution.

The recently discovered pulsar, or rapidly spinning neutron star, was discovered through the analysis of data derived from the National Science Foundation’s Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT)— which is capable of capturing the pulse of radio waves such as those emit by pulsars.

The official designation of the pulsar discovered by then high school students Cecilia McGough and De’Shang Ray is PSR J1930-1852.

The discovery was made back in 2012 by McGough, then a student at Strasburgh High School in Virginia, and De’Shang Ray who studied at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Baltimore, Maryland at the time of the discovery.

According to Phys.Org, PSR J1930-1852 will help astronomers increase their understanding of how binary neutron star systems form and evolve.

In other astronomy related coverage here on Immortal News, astronomers discovered the first new dwarf galaxies in a decade and they didn’t just find a couple of them, they found nine.

Are you surprised by the notion of a couple of high school students finding a new pulsar?

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