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07. May 2021, 01:06 hrs

A new telescope to study Einstein’s theory of relativity and high – density objects in the universe. Through the Mirkat telescope in South Africa, astronomers conduct systematic studies of binary pulsars for gravity experiments. A press release from the Radio Astronomy, Pan, Max Planck Institute.

May 6, 2021 – A team of international astronomers led by the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy (MBIFR) in Gold and the British Columbia University (UPC) in Vancouver presents the first results of a large-scale project. Made with the South African Mirkot Radio Telescope to test Einstein’s theories with unprecedented accuracy. ?? Relativity and binary pulsers ?? (Relpin) and the first results are presented in an article published in the magazine today? Monthly Announcements of the Royal Astronomical Society? Described.

Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity is one of the best researched theories in physics, and is currently the best explanation of the force of gravity. Nevertheless, questions remain, i.e. the nature of the “dark matter”. Or ?? Dark energy ?? Unanswered, and possible deviations from general relativity are still being explored. Here, the study of binary pulsers provides unique insights into the very high-density stars that act as cosmic lighthouses and accurate clocks, completing other experiments, for example gravitational wave detection or satellite missions.

Pulsars are only about 15 miles in size, and are mostly made up of neutrons. With masses up to twice the mass of the Sun, they are the most intense objects in the visible universe. By observing the movement of a potential companion, another neutron star, or a large “white dwarf” around the center of an ordinary star’s emerging center, radio telescopes such as the Meerkat in South Africa can detect their position in their respective orbits only about 30 meters accurately! It can manifest a number of relative effects on orbital motion, such as the emission of gravitational waves or the effects of light scattering on its strong gravitational fields.

The Meerkot telescope is an excellent new radio telescope developed by the South African Radio Astronomical Observatory. (SARAO) is built and operated. It offers high sensitivity due to the combination of signals of 64 individual 13 m antennas. As part of the “big survey project”? MyTime is a “relativity and binary pulsars” program led by Matthew Bailes, a professor at the University of Swinburne in Australia. (Relpin) MBIFR, under the guidance of Professor Michael Kramer, Director of the Bon and Professor Ingrid Stairs of the University of British Columbia, Canada, is the best science project proposed for Meerkat. The International Railways team with colleagues from Africa, Australia, Europe and North America is now presenting the first results of this project.

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Ralph focuses primarily on observing the relative effects on the pulsar binary systems in order to carry out accurate measurements of the masses of neutron stars and experiments on the principles of gravity. Although detailed results can still be expected after several months of monitoring, the team can already show that observations with Meerkat generally improve existing data from other telescopes by a factor of 2-3, sometimes even at full scale. Michael Kramer is excited: ?? Meerkat’s performance was better than we expected! Not only has it taken about 10 years with other telescopes, but we can now test whether they can be done more accurately.

Michael Kramer / MPIfR

Zoom in imagePSR J0737-3039A: The dual pulsar system consists of two pulsars orbiting each other (with rotation times of 23 milliseconds and 2.8 seconds). The dual pulsar is one of the surveillance items explored as part of Ralph’s project.
(Image: Michael Kramer / MPIfR)

The tested sources include the popular dual pulsar system, in which two pulsars orbit each other in 2.5 hours. Project Co-Chairman Ingrid Stairs explains, “Now we can explore this system in more detail. The system is constantly changing its orbital configuration due to the effects of relativity, and these effects can be followed very closely for general relativity tests.

Rolfin is by far the largest study of relative double pulsars and aims to increase the number of accurately measured masses of neutron stars. Dr. Vivek Venkatraman Krishnan, a postgraduate student at MBIFR and co-organizer of the mission, summarizes: ?? The mass of neutron stars provides information about how densely packed matter can be in the universe. By observing the relative effects of neutron stars on the motion of neutron stars in binary systems, Meerkot can measure their masses with an accuracy of about 1% or more, proving or disproving many of the models proposed by atomic physicists. ??

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Matthew Bailey’s team at Swinburne University of Technology has developed a supercomputer infrastructure that can digest nearly 300 million megabytes of input from a telescope each day and turn it into scientifically usable data. “Meerkat is a great example of a global science project, where experts from all over the world come together to put Einstein’s laws at its pace to create an amazing tool,” he says.

South African Radio Astronomy Laboratory (SARAO)

Zoom in imageRadio antennas of the Mirkat Telescope Network in the Karu semi-desert of South Africa under a starry night sky.
(Built by: South African Radio Astronomical Laboratory (SARAO))

The Meerkot Telescope Network, powered by SARAO, is the largest radio telescope in the Southern Hemisphere and one of the two pioneering instruments of the SKA project set up in South Africa. The radio telescope located in the Karu Desert will soon be expanded by the Max Planck Society in collaboration with SARAO and INAF in Italy with several additional reflection antennas. This project called “Meerkat +” will enhance the capabilities of Meerkat. The telescope will then be gradually integrated with SKAO’s center telescope. The first scientific observations with the improved Mirkat telescope could begin as early as 2023, while the telescope is still being tested.

?? We would like to congratulate the excellent performance of our South African colleagues. We are proud and grateful that we can use the telescope with our African colleagues for our joint research. Stay tuned for many more amazing results! ?? Michael Kramer concludes.

Background information
The Meerkat Telescope Network, operated by the South African Radio Astronomical Observatory (SARAO), is one of the largest radio telescopes in the Southern Hemisphere and one of the two pioneering instruments of the SKA project, based in South Africa. Radio telescope located in Karu desert will be expanded soon ?? Meerkat + ?? Additional parabolic antennas for the project. Extended. The telescope will then be gradually integrated into the SKA project, construction of which will begin soon and last until 2028. The first scientific observations with Meerkat + could begin in 2023 during the test phase of the telescope.

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MyTime is a “major survey project” for the Meerkat Telescope Network, operated by Swinburne University of Technology. In collaboration with several Australian companies and INAF, University of Manchester, MBIFR, NRO and Sarawak.

?? Relativity and binary pulsers ?? (Relpin) is a scientific project that is part of the “Great Survey Project”. For systematic investigation of pulsar binary systems for meertime, gravity tests. The event will be led by Professor Michael Kramer, Director of MBIFR in Bonn and Professor Ingrid Stairs of the University of British Columbia (UPC). Ralphin’s international research team includes scientists from Africa, Australia, Europe and North America.

Michael Kramer, Ingrid H. on the review team for the publication. Stairs, Vivek Venkatraman Krishnan, Palo C.C. Guillemott, Juansen Hu, Gemma Johnson, Marcus E. Lower, Aditya Parthasarathy, Andrea Bosendi, Scott Ransom, Daniel J. , Lucy S. Oswald, Bettina Boselt, Charlotte Sophie, Evan D. Barr, Fernando Camilo, Benjamin Hugo, Andrew Jameson, Simon Johnston, Aris Krastergio, Michael Keith and Stephen Osovsky. Eleven of the authors (Kramer, Venkatraman Krishnan, Freer, Abbott, Champion, Kuttam, Hu, Parthasarathy, Ridolby, Wex and Bar) are associated with MBIFR.

Relative Binary Project on Meerkot: Scientific Objectives and First Conclusions
M. Kramer et al.,
Royal Astronomical Society (MNRAS) Monthly Volume Announcements, Volume 504, Issue 2, June 2021, Pages 2094 ?? 2114),
DOI: doi.org/10.1093/mnras/stab375

Relative Binary Project on Meerkot: Scientific Objectives and First Conclusions
arXiv-Preprint (Kramer et al. 2021, MNRAS Volume 504, Release 2, June 2021, pp. 2094 ?? 2114)

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Source: Radio Astronomy Max Planck Company