Feeds

Are pulsars gravity-wave generators?

Nature's speed hump

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Business security measures using SSL

Scientists at the European Space Agency (ESA) say that a newly discovered star could provide a test for the existence of gravitational waves.

The object, a pulsar, was discovered by the INTEGRAL spacecraft, and is one of the fastest spinning stars ever seen, rotating nearly 600 times every second. Most millisecond pulsars hover around the 300 revolutions per second mark, and the fastest spinning pulsar ever detected clocked in at 641 rps.

But even this is far short of the theoretical maximum of around 3,000 revolutions per second. Any faster that this and the object would tear itself apart. "Nature is applying some kind of brake, but we don't know what that is," MIT's Deepto Chakrabarty told New Scientist

Theoretically, a spinning body's speed should be limited by gravitational waves, the researchers say, which would carry energy away in the form of ripples in spacetime. Rapidly rotating, uneven objects are predicted to generate these waves, with faster spinning bodies creating more waves than slower ones.

The pulsar was discovered by a research team at the University of Southampton, and the findings are published in Astronomy & Astrophysics. As more super-fast millisecond pulsars are discovered, researchers will be able to tell if gravitational waves really are at work.

Chakrabarty explains that if there is a bunching of pulsars at and around the 600rps mark, this would suggest that gravitational waves are indeed involved. But if the upper speed limit tails off more gradually, then other factors are more likely responsible.

But researchers will have to wait for the upgrades to the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO), to be complete before they can say for sure. These will be finished in 2008, and will be sensitive enough to detect any gravitational waves emanating from a pulsar.

More here. ®

Related stories

Brits bet on gravity wave discovery
NASA bumps return to flight
Ariane 5 ECA launch is go

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
SCREW YOU, Russia! NASA lobs $6.8bn at Boeing AND SpaceX to run space station taxis
Musk charging nearly half as much as Boeing for crew trips
PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away
Supermassive black hole dominates titchy star formation
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.