The scientists recorded a microscopic deformations formed on a distant pulsar. The neutron star is located about 4500 light-years from the Earth. The deformations are about the size of a bacterium, and as for science that measurement is considered to be incredible. Given that bacteria are incredibly small, a very powerful microscope is required for its optical capabilities to cover such vast distances.
Small deformations a few micrometers in size were made based on a research carried out by Professor Sudip Bhattacharya of the Tata Institute for Basic Research in India. The peculiarity of neutron stars is that the lights are very dense space objects.
On average, the size of an average pulsar is that of a small city. But the density of its material is greater than that of the Sun. Some neutron objects rotate at a tremendous speed. It can be several hundred times per second, and they are called millisecond pulsars. A slight asymmetry or deformation around the axis of rotation of such a star can cause continuous emission of gravitational waves.
The ripples in space-time that are formed by the gravitational waves, gave the astronomer new opportunities for exploring the Universe. However, no continuous gravitational waves have yet been discovered that could be created by a deformed and continuously rotating neutron star.
Modern technologies do not yet make it possible to see or detect these waves if the deformation is negligible or very small. But the researchers were able to find indirect ways to identify such waves, and they were able to measure them.
An important factor was the estimation of the contribution of waves to the rate of deceleration of the pulsar's rotation that until now was impossible to do. A pulsar PSR J1023 + 0038, where small deformations were found and that the scientists are now observing, is a unique source of a new knowledge about the space.