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The High Time Resolution Universe Survey

Beginning in November 2008, the High Time Resolution Universe (HTRU) survey has recently been completed. This was a survey of the entire Southern sky for pulsars and radio transients using the 64-metre Parkes radio telescope in Australia. To date, with data processing still on-going, the survey has discovered over 100 radio pulsars, including 30 of the most rapidly-rotating pulsars, known as millisecond pulsars (MSPs).

The Parkes
The Parkes telescope on a sunny day.
Picture taken by Roy Smits (JBCA).

One of the most interesting of these MSPs is in a binary system with a companion whose mass is similar to that of Jupiter. It is thought that this companion was once the star which spun up the pulsar, but has now been transformed into a planet over the lifetime of the system. A press release containing futher information about this interesting system can be found here.

FRBs at Parkes
An artist's impression of Fast Radio Bursts in the sky above the Parkes telescope.
Copyright: Swinburne Astronomy Productions

The HTRU survey has not only discovered lots of interesting pulsars; former JBCA student Dan Thornton was responsible for the discovery of several “Fast Radio Bursts”, which are thought to be the signals of highly energetic bursts at cosmological distances. Only one such burst had previously been observed, making these new detections very important to understanding their origins and identifying a population of such events. For further information, please see the press release.

By: Sam Bates