PSC students have found their first millisecond pulsar. It has a period of 3.08 milliseconds, meaning that it spins around 324 times every second. Jessica Pal and Emily Phan first found this pulsar on January 17, 2012, in the plot below. Anne Agee, Sydney Dydiw, and Max Sterling also ranked this pulsar highly, bringing it it to the attention of astronomers and corroborating the initial discovery.

Pulsar hunters Sydney Dydiw of Trinity High School,
Emily Phan of George C. Marshall High School,
Anne Agee of Roanoke Valley Governor's School,
Jessica Pal of Rowan County High School
and Max Sterling of Langley High School.

Confirmation Plot (L) and Discovery Plot (R)
Click to enlarge.


On January 24, 2012, observations with the Green Bank Telescope at 800 MHz confirmed that the signal was astronomical and zeroed in on its position. The confirmation plot is below. Pulsars are brighter at lower frequencies (like 350 MHz, above) than at higher frequencies, which is why the confirmation plot is noisier than the original data.

Since this pulsar spins so fast, it may be used as part of the pulsar timing array used to detect gravitational waves.