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Physics & Astronomy Seminar: The Arecibo PALFA survey and the observed population of millisecond pulsars

February 13 @ 2:00 pm

Emilie Parent,
Department of Physics & MSI
McGill University

Over the past five decades, pulsar astrophysics has greatly impacted a variety of fields in fundamental physics, from testing theories of gravity to investigating the equation-of-state of matter at supra-nuclear densities. Radio surveys for pulsars and fast transients have been the most effective mean of discovering neutron stars in our Galaxy, thereby enabling discoveries of exceptional systems that can be used as unique laboratories. In this talk, I will describe the Arecibo PALFA survey, the most sensitive large-scale survey for pulsars and fast transients in the Galactic plane to date. PALFA has discovered nearly 200 pulsars and fast transients, including the most relativistic double-neutron-star binary system and the first repeating Fast Radio Burst. The survey has been notably prolific in finding millisecond pulsars (MSPs): the fastest-spinning pulsars spun-up by accretion. Often found in binary systems, MSPs are particularly valuable in the context of understanding binary evolution and measuring neutron star masses. I will present some of the survey’s newest MSP discoveries and their interesting properties. Finally, I will discuss the observed population of MSPs PALFA has helped uncover.

Emilie is a Canada Vanier Scholar and an alumna of Bishop’s Physics.


February 13
2:00 pm
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Physics Department
819-822-9600 ext. 2355