The pulsars project is concerned with the large-scale discovery and follow-up studies of radio emitting neutron stars. This includes those neutron stars which emit regular pulses ('pulsars') enabling their use as cosmic clocks, as well as those erratically emitting neutron stars ('RRATs') used to study the extreme fundamental physical processes of the pulsar emission mechanism. This work is currently being performed with the Parkes radio telescope, and will soon be joined by the Murchison Wide-Field Array (MWA) and the refurbished Molonglo radio telescope.

The Dynamic Radio Universe Theme is split between phenomena that occur on sub-second timescales which require the process of dedispersion to detect, and those in which the timescale is many minutes to hours/days. In CAASTRO these are referred to as “fast” and “slow”/”imaging” transients respectively.

Within the fast transients project we have further sub-divided the field into sources that (i) repeat with various degrees of regularity, which arise from neutron stars;  and (ii) those sources that appear to be coming from cosmological distances (the so-called Fast Radio Bursts, or FRBs). Although the detection methodologies for some pulsars and the FRBs are largely identical, and the programmes involved in discovering them are commensurate, their science goals are completely different.

Diamond Planet

Schematic view of the Pulsar-Planet system  PSR J1719-1438 showing the pulsar with 5.7 ms rotation period in the centre, and the orbit of the planet in comparison to the size of the sun (marked in yellow).