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Comment: pulsars are nature's flywheels (Score 1) 325

by Scott Ransom (#36315356) Attached to: Using Flywheels to Meet Peak Power Grid Demands

All of the energy that we see (as well as the energy we don't see, which is the vast majority of it and which comes out in a relativistic particle wind) comes from the rotation of the neutron star. That means that pulsars are flywheels. And amazingly (even to me, and I study them daily), the most energetic pulsars give off tens of thousands of times more power than the total power output of the Sun. And all from rotation. That's crazy.

Damn the Universe is cool.

Comment: Re:Telescope in West Virginia (Score 4, Informative) 248

by Scott Ransom (#36136406) Attached to: Search For Alien Life On 86 Planets Begins

Actually, they aren't using the GBT's spectrometer. They are using an instrument that I helped to develop for pulsar research called GUPPI, which uses FPGAs and GPUs to real-time process 800MHz of radio bandwidth.

However, in this case they are using GUPPI's GPU nodes to record 800MHz of Nyquist-sampled band centered at 1.5GHz. Each sample is 2-bits, and with 2 polarizations, that is how they get 800MB/s (or almost a GB/s as it says in the article).

If you want some basic info about GUPPI, you can find it here:

https://safe.nrao.edu/wiki/bin/view/CICADA/NGNPP

Comment: Re:A complementary approach (Score 5, Informative) 190

by Scott Ransom (#29434879) Attached to: A Galaxy-Sized Observatory For Gravitational Waves

The good thing is that the pulsars which glitch are the young ones (hundreds to millions of years old). The pulsars that we are using for NANOGrav are millisecond pulsars which are hundreds of millions or billions of years old, have much smaller magnetic fields than young pulsars, and basically never glitch. They are extremely stable rotators -- much better than normal pulsars.

"Only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core." -- Hannah Arendt.

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