A New Southern Sky Pulsar Survey
The Parkes telescope on a sunny day.
Picture taken by Roy Smits (JBCA).
A new survey covering the whole of the southern sky began in November 2008 at the Parkes 64-metre radio telescope in Australia. This survey will vastly increase the sampling rate over past blind surveys, with the aim of discovering more pulsars which rotate at over 30 times per second! These pulsars are the most likely to be in interesting binary systems and also those which provide the best timing data, allowing us to probe the existence of gravitational waves.
Data collected during the survey will total almost 1.5 peta-byte (about 30,000 DVD's worth of data!), half of which will be processed at the JBCA on the Hydra computer cluster of 180 machines with 1440 processors. The other half of the data will be processed at Swinburne University in Melbourne, in order to reduce the time taken to process the survey.
Parkes has a good pedigree in finding pulsars - the previous survey discovered over half the currently known pulsars; and with the more advanced technology being used now, the hope is to increase the size of the pulsar catalogue even further.
By: Sam Bates (JBCA)