Pulsar Science in Europe

Pulsar Surveys

Doubling the number of known pulsars

While over 1700 pulsars have been found since 1968, this number probably only represents only about 1% of the total population of over 100,000 active pulsars believed to populate our Galaxy. Our sample of objects is therefore likely to be heavily observationally biased, and not representative of the true population. In order to minimize this bias as far as possible, PulSE members are continually involved in a number of sensitive surveys for pulsars using some of the largest radio telescopes around the world.

Whilst the 100m class European instruments were ideal for developing and testing new techniques, the best chance of detecting new pulsars comes from observing the central regions of our disk-like galaxy. This is not seen well from the northern hemisphere and so the European groups sought the collaboration of the Australian Telescope National Facility, which operates the 64-m Parkes telescope in New South Wales. The Parkes Telescope was equipped with a 13-beam receiver system jointly developed by the Jodrell Bank Observatory, the INAFF Observatorio Astronomico di Cagliari and the Australian Telescope National Facility.

The Multibeam receiver being mounted at Parkes

This magnificent observing system has allowed for deeper surveys into the Galaxy than ever before. In fact, the surveys carried out since 1998 account for one half of all currently known pulsars.

Recent highlights of our searches include:

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