Astronomers making good time

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By Special to the Monitor

An international team of astronomers, including Michael Kramer from the Max-Planck-Institut fuer Radioastronomie in Germany has studied the behavior of natural cosmic clocks and discovered a way to potentially turn them into the best timekeepers in the Universe. The scientists made their breakthrough using decade-long observations from the 76-m Lovell radio telescope at the University of Manchester’s Jodrell Bank Observatory to track the radio signals of an extreme type of star known as pulsars.

This new understanding of pulsar spin-down could improve the chances to use the fastest spinning pulsars in order to make the first direct detection of ripples, known as gravitational waves, in the fabric of space time.

Radio pulsars have been studied in detail since their discovery in 1967 and their exquisite rotational stability has led to the discovery of the first extrasolar planets and provided tests for our theories of the Universe.

Visit http://www.mpifr-bonn.mpg.de/public/pr/pr-pulsarrot-en.html.