BEIJING – FAST, the world’s biggest radio telescope, located in China’s Guizhou province, has discovered two pulsars in the first 12 months of operation, the official news agency Xinhua reported on Tuesday.
The two pulsars, called J1859-01 and J1931-01, are 16,000 and 4,100 light years away from the Earth respectively, with rotation periods of 1.83 and 0.59 seconds, according to the National Astronomical Observatories of China.
Pulsars are neutron stars rotating at great speed which emit electromagnetic radiation periodically.
FAST discovered the two stars on Aug. 22 and 25 while scanning the southern galactic plane and their discovery was later confirmed by Australian radio telescope Parkes.
“It is truly encouraging to have achieved such results within just one year,” said Peng Bo, deputy director of the FAST project, adding that it normally takes between three and five years for a telescope of this size to complete its trial period.
With a diameter of half a kilometer, equivalent to the area of 30 football fields, FAST (Five Hundred Meter Aperture Spherical Telescope) started functioning in September 2016 and has become one of the highlights of China’s science program.
The stated object of the device is to seek out the origin and evolution of the universe.