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Discovering stars

When citizens become scientists!

When Einstein@Home discovered a new pulsar its discovery wasn’t credited to astronomers, but to its volunteers - Daniel Gebhardt, from Mainz, Germany, and husband-and-wife team Chris and Helen Colvin of Ames, Iowa.

Pulsars are highly magnetised, rotating neutron stars that emit a beam of electromagnetic radiation. Einstein@Home, a BOINC project, was originally set up to search for gravitational waves in data from the US LIGO Observatory. However in March 2009, the project also began to use its volunteers’ computers to search for signals from radio pulsars in observations from the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.

The new pulsar, discovered in October 2010 and named PSR J2007+2722, was the first deep-space discovery by Einstein@Home. Since then a further seven pulsars have been discovered by Einstein@Home volunteers, showing how donating your computer can make a real difference.

Want to read more about the success stories powered by volunteer computing? Take a look at International Science Grid This Week, a weekly online publication that covers distributed computing and the research it enables.