Extraordinary Physics with Millisecond Pulsars

Extraordinary Physics with Millisecond Pulsars - Scott Ransom

Scott Ransom
National Radio Astronomy Observatory
November 22, 2016

Pulsars are some of physics and astrophysics' most exotic objects, and they have already earned two Nobel Prizes. We currently know of about 2500 of them in our Galaxy, but a small subset, the millisecond pulsars (MSPs), are truly remarkable. These systems are notoriously hard to detect, yet their numbers have more than doubled in the past 5 years via surveys using the world's most sensitive telescopes, new instrumentation, and huge amounts of computing. Specialized "timing" observations of these systems, accounting for each and every one of the billions of rotations of the stars, are providing fantastic results in basic physics. In this talk I'll focus on the efforts to directly detect gravitational waves from super-massive black hole binaries, make strong-field tests of general relativity, and determine the nature of the densest form of matter known in the universe.