A scientists team comprising Dr Bhaswati Bhattacharyya of the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) and Jayanta Roy of NCRA, have reported the discovery of six millisecond pulsars (MSPs) using the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT),Khodad which further pushes the boundaries of known parameter space of MSPs. The discoveries are expected to have a huge impact on the understanding of pulsar astrophysics and are being seen as important scientific contributions from India.
MSPs are compact and dense neutron stars with same total mass as compared to our Sun,but compressed into a 20-km size object. They rotate with periods of only a few tens of milliseconds.
One of the successes of this mission has been the discovery of a large population of gamma rays emitting MSPs. An International Pulsar Search Consortium (PSC) was formed to search for millisecond pulsations in the radio band for these sources. Discovery of gamma-ray selected MSPs,which also emit radio waves,will contribute to the study of the gravitational wave background and provide a much broader window for probing the physics of pulsars.
The achievement was made easier due to two new capabilities: the GMRT Software Back-end – a state of the art High Performance Computing back-end at the GMRT (developed by Jayanta Roy and colleagues) to collect high time resolution data from the GMRT and a powerful High Performance Computing Cluster at IUCAA for the data analysis.
One of these pulsars – a 2.16 millisecond period pulsar (named PSR J1544+4937) is expected to provide the missing link between isolated and fully recycled pulsars,wherein the strong radiation from the pulsar slowly evaporates the companion,eventually leaving the neutron star as a single object. The importance of this discovery can be gauged by the fact that only two such systems have been discovered in the disk of our Galaxy in the last 20 years, Bhattacharyya said.