Pune-based telescope captures pulsar formation

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Pune: In a remarkable discovery, the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) located at Khodad town, nearly 80 km from Pune, has captured a phenomenal image of pulsar formation some 4,500 light years away from Earth.

Operated by the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA), the telescope clicked the formation of one of the brightest pulsars — the fast-spinning remnant of a collapsed star that shines so intensely it can be mistaken for a massive black hole, according to media reports.

The discovery was made by a team led by Jayant Roy from NCRA, senior professor Jayaram Chengalur from NCRA, Bhaswati Bhattacharya, British researcher Ben Strapers and US scientist Paul Rey, among others.

The NCRA, an affiliate of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), has installed the GMRT at its premises near Pune to facilitate radio astronomical research at metre wavelengths.

One of the most sensitive telescopes in the world (within its range), the GMRT has an effective diameter of 25 km and is made of 30 smaller dish antennas.

The telescope is used to observe the sky at different frequencies.

Pulsars are types of neutron stars — the dead relics of massive stars.

The formation of a pulsar is very similar to the creation of a neutron star. When a massive star with four to eight times the mass of our Sun dies, it detonates as a supernova.

The outer layers are blasted off into space, and the inner core contracts down with its gravity.

A pulsar is a possible “missing link” between compact stellar-mass black holes and the unseen monsters lurking at the cores of many galaxies.

The GMRT is currently being upgraded with a new suite of frequency bands and electronics.

It will allow it to retain its premier status in the low-frequency astronomy community for at least the next decade, the reports added.

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