Pulsars and neutron stars/Education and outreach

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Introduction[edit]

Pulsar astronomers study massive objects, with the strongest magnetic fields known, that are spinning so fast that (at least for some pulsars) their surface is moving nearly at the speed of light. Pulsars are used to study supermassive binary black holes in the centres of merging galaxies, to search for ripples in space-time and perhaps to navigate space-craft through the Galaxy. Not surprisingly pulsar astronomy can grab the public or student interest. Here we provide some useful tools for making pulsar research accessible to the general public and describe some of the many pulsar-based outreach activities.

A review of high-school level astronomy research projects (which contains many pulsar projects) is given by Fitzgerald et al. (2014).

Pulsar sounds[edit]

Recordings of pulsar sounds can be obtained from the CSIRO website or from this archive from the Jodrell Bank observatory.

Pulsars have also been included in music. Some examples include:

Images and animations[edit]

Animations of pulsars and gravitational waves can be accessed from:

PULSE@Parkes[edit]

PULSE@Parkes was established in 2007 and allows high-school students carry out real-time observations of known pulsars using the Parkes 64-m radio telescope. To date, student and teacher groups from around Australia and in the USA, Canada, Japan, England, Netherlands and Wales have taken part in the project. All data from the PULSE@Parkes project are publically available. See this website for more details.

Pulsar search collaboratory[edit]

The Pulsar Search Collaboratory (PSC) began in 2008 and is run by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) and West Virginia University. In this project, teachers and students are trained in radio and pulsar astronomy techniques. They then go back to their schools to work on related projects. There have been a number of discoveries made by the PSC students.

ARCC[edit]

The Arecibo Remote Command Center (ARCC) is based at the University of Texas in Brownsville. Students carry out pulsar searches using the 305m Arecibo Radio telescope and analyse their data. There is now also an ARCC at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.