Leonard E Parker

Center for Gravitation, Cosmology & Astrophysics

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Leonard E Parker Center for Gravitation, Cosmology and Astrophysics

UWM Astronomy Club Students Receive Training in Pulsar Searching at World’s Largest Steerable Radio Dish

Posted by Megan DeCesar on July 31, 2014

Several UWM physics students, CGCA postdoctoral researchers, and CGCA professors are members of the Green Bank North Celestial Cap (GBNCC) pulsar survey. The GBNCC collaboration is searching for pulsars in all parts of the sky that can be observed by the Green Bank Telescope (GBT) in West Virginia. The GBT is the largest steerable radio telescope in the world; the famous Arecibo Telescope in Puerto Rico is larger, but cannot be steered.

The GBNCC collaboration has discovered 67 pulsars to date (for details, you can see the article about these discoveries). The survey is ongoing, and CGCA members who are part of the GBNCC survey regularly take the lead on observations for the project. These observations are typically done off-site, by logging into computers at the GBT from computers at UWM and steering the telescope remotely. However, in order to observe remotely, one must first be trained on-site, in person, at the GBT.

This summer, three undergraduate students in the UWM Astronomy Club, and one postdoctoral researcher, joined Professor David Kaplan on a trip to the Green Bank Telescope (GBT) in West Virginia. They were trained to use the GBT to perform pulsar searching observations. While they were there, they got to take a tour of the observatory and climb on the telescope! They are now certified to lead remote observations at the GBT from UWM.

In addition to observing, GBNCC members have the opportunity to search the data for pulsars. The UWM Astronomy Club is very involved in these searches. So stay tuned — there will likely be some new pulsar discoveries by UWM students in the next few months!

Are you an undergraduate student who is interested in studying astronomy? If so, consider joining the UWM Astronomy Club. If you are interested in discovering new pulsars and/or in learning to work with one of the best telescopes in the world, contact Professor David Kaplan or Professor Xavier Siemens for more information. Maybe you will be part of a GBT observing trip next summer!

Images courtesy of David Kaplan

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