Star Pavilion Saturday 2023

Dr. Lina Levin Preston is a pulsar astronomer at the University of Manchester’s Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics. She completed her PhD at Swinburne University of Technology in Australia in 2012, focussing on searches for pulsars with the Parkes radio telescope. From there, she moved on to a postdoc at West Virginia University in the USA, working with interstellar medium effects of millisecond pulsars in pulsar timing arrays. Since 2015, she has been part of the SKA PSS team at the University of Manchester, designing and building the pulsar search backends for the SKA telescopes, which are currently in construction. In addition, Dr. Levin Preston is a member of the TRAPUM collaboration, which is searching for pulsars with the MeerKAT radio telescope in South Africa, where she is leading the effort to discover new pulsars in galaxies other than our own.

Talk: Searching for pulsars with the world’s largest radio telescopes
Pulsars are rotating neutron stars: small, extremely dense, remnant stars from when a massive star explodes in a supernova at the end of its life. They emit radio emission in a beam offset from its rotation axis, and once every rotation, when the emission beam points towards the Earth, the pulsar can be observed with a large radio telescope. Pulsars are excellent tools for analysing and testing a large variety of physical processes that are impossible to test on Earth. Their exceptionally stable rotation allows us to use them as very precise clocks in space and will help us to gain a deeper understanding of, for example, relativistic effects, gravitational theories, and super dense matter.

In this talk, you will find out more about the importance of studying pulsars as astrophysical laboratories, how to find new pulsars, as well as a preview of the future of pulsar surveys with the exceptional SKA telescopes.

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