Which is the best pulsar ever

Extremely fast rotating pulsar observed

It rotates around itself 707 times per second: This makes PSR J0952-0607 the fastest rotating pulsar in the disk of our Milky Way and the second fastest of all known pulsars. An international team of astronomers discovered the new pulsar with the LOFAR radio telescope system. With the discovery of this and another rapidly rotating pulsar, LOFAR showed that there could be a large number of previously overlooked pulsars in the Milky Way, according to the researchers in the "Astrophysical Journal Letters" journal.

Pulsars are strongly magnetized neutron stars that are created by the gravitational collapse of massive stars. Their regularly pulsating radiation results from the acceleration of particles in the rotating magnetosphere of the neutron stars. By observing extremely fast rotating pulsars, researchers hope to gain insights into the internal structure of objects on the one hand and new insights into the behavior of matter under extreme conditions on the other.

"The fastest rotating pulsars seem to shine brightest at low frequencies," says Jason Hessels from the University of Amsterdam. “If this is actually the case, then LOFAR is particularly well suited to tracking down further pulsars that may rotate even faster.” The LOFAR radio telescope specializes in observations at very low frequencies, i.e. extremely long wavelengths. It consists of 25,000 small antennas spread across the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Great Britain and France.

The search for pulsars with LOFAR is made more difficult by the fact that gas and dust in the Milky Way interfere with the propagation of low-frequency radio radiation. Hessels and his colleagues were able to solve this problem with a new numerical method for image evaluation. A first test run with LOFAR last year resulted in an immediate success with the Pulsar PSR J1552 + 5437. This pulsar rotates 412 times per second and already the second observation round this year unearthed the new pulsar PSR J0952-0607.

In addition to radio radiation, pulsars also emit gamma radiation. In their search with LOFAR, Hessels and his colleagues therefore concentrate on gamma sources in the sky, the origin of which is so far unknown. The researchers have already been able to show that the gamma radiation from PSR J1552 + 5437 pulses in synchronism with the radio radiation. According to the scientists, there seems to be a physical connection between the generation of the two types of radiation.