Home Einsteins help turn up 13 new pulsars

Distributed 'supercomputer' prises open Fermi 'scope's secrets, sometimes with just 10 photons a day


The Einstein@home project has announced the discovery of 13 neutron stars in its distributed analysis of gamma ray data from the orbiting Fermi telescope.

The bunch of “young” pulsars are believed to have formed between tens and hundreds of thousands of years ago, and among them are three particular curiosities: two that are spinning slower than any known gamma ray pulsar, and one that changed rotation during the observation.

Spotting the critters at all is a challenge. As the Einstein@home announcement from the Max Planck Institute explains, even Fermi's Large Area Telescope only detects around ten photons each day from the typical pulsar.

With around 440,000 volunteers taking part since the project was launched in 2005, Einstein@home boasts 1.6 Petaflops of computing capacity, which would earn it a very high place in the Top 500 supercomputer rankings.

Researchers need to comb years' worth of data with fine resolution to identify new sources, and that's where Einstein@home comes into play, using the kind of “spare computing cycles” approach pioneered by the far less successful Seti@home project.

Einstein@home has, the Max Planck Institute says, become the go-to for “blind” searches, looking for gamma ray pulsars without data in other wavelengths. It's made all such discoveries in the last four years, turning up 21 sources, which make up one-third of the total blind-search discoveries in any survey.

The most recent study, published in The Astrophysical Journal, used 10,000 years' worth of CPU time over a year.

The scientists probed 118 candidate sources, out of 1,000 unidentified sources in the Fermi-LAT “Third Source Catalogue”, and created a new search scheme for the project “to analyse the detected gamma ray photons for hidden periodicities.”

The release notes that the slow-spinning pulsars are harder to find, because they emit fewer gamma rays than those spinning faster.

“Another newly discovered pulsar experienced a strong 'glitch', a sudden speedup of unknown origin in its otherwise regular rotation. Glitches are observed in other young pulsars and might be related to re-arrangements of the neutron star interior but are not well understood,” the release says. ®


Other stories you might like

  • Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise adds Wi-Fi 6E to 'premium' access points
    Company claims standard will improve performance in dense environments

    Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise is the latest networking outfit to add Wi-Fi 6E capability to its hardware, opening up access to the less congested 6GHz spectrum for business users.

    The France-based company just revealed the OmniAccess Stellar 14xx series of wireless access points, which are set for availability from this September. Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise said its first Wi-Fi 6E device will be a high-end "premium" Access Point and will be followed by a mid-range product by the end of the year.

    Wi-Fi 6E is compatible with the Wi-Fi 6 standard, but adds the ability to use channels in the 6GHz portion of the spectrum, a feature that will be built into the upcoming Wi-Fi 7 standard from the start. This enables users to reduce network contention, or so the argument goes, as the 6GHz portion of the spectrum is less congested with other traffic than the existing 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies used for Wi-Fi access.

    Continue reading
  • Will Lenovo ever think beyond hardware?
    Then again, why develop your own software à la HPE GreenLake when you can use someone else's?

    Analysis Lenovo fancies its TruScale anything-as-a-service (XaaS) platform as a more flexible competitor to HPE GreenLake or Dell Apex. Unlike its rivals, Lenovo doesn't believe it needs to mimic all aspects of the cloud to be successful.

    While subscription services are nothing new for Lenovo, the company only recently consolidated its offerings into a unified XaaS service called TruScale.

    On the surface TruScale ticks most of the XaaS boxes — cloud-like consumption model, subscription pricing — and it works just like you'd expect. Sign up for a certain amount of compute capacity and a short time later a rack full of pre-plumbed compute, storage, and network boxes are delivered to your place of choosing, whether that's a private datacenter, colo, or edge location.

    Continue reading
  • Intel is running rings around AMD and Arm at the edge
    What will it take to loosen the x86 giant's edge stranglehold?

    Analysis Supermicro launched a wave of edge appliances using Intel's newly refreshed Xeon-D processors last week. The launch itself was nothing to write home about, but a thought occurred: with all the hype surrounding the outer reaches of computing that we call the edge, you'd think there would be more competition from chipmakers in this arena.

    So where are all the AMD and Arm-based edge appliances?

    A glance through the catalogs of the major OEMs – Dell, HPE, Lenovo, Inspur, Supermicro – returned plenty of results for AMD servers, but few, if any, validated for edge deployments. In fact, Supermicro was the only one of the five vendors that even offered an AMD-based edge appliance – which used an ageing Epyc processor. Hardly a great showing from AMD. Meanwhile, just one appliance from Inspur used an Arm-based chip from Nvidia.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022