Physics Department
Complesso universitario di Monserrato
SP Sestu-Monserrato km 0.7
I-09042 Monserrato (CA), Italy

Cagliari Astronomical Observatory
Località Poggio dei Pini
Strada 54
I-09012 Capoterra(CA), Italy

The Double Pulsar, one of the Holy Grail of Pulsar Astronomy

There is no doubt that the role of PhD students in science is always relevant. They are enthusiastic, they have a lot of energy, and they are of course open minded. And in pulsar astronomy, female students have played a major role. The original discovery of pulsars was due to Jocelyn Bell, whose perceptiveness was fundamental to drive the Antony Hewish experiment toward the discovery of pulsars. After about forty years since then, we had the privilege to discover a Holy Grail of pulsar astronomy (this is indeed the motivation of the EU Descartes Prize): the most relativistic binary pulsar PSR J0737-3039, which turned out to be also the first ever known Double Pulsar. Also in this case, a prominent role was played by a young female, Marta Burgay, one of my PhD students in Bologna.

The exciting circumstances of this discovery can be found following the link to the "Amazing Story" from the Home page, while my interview with Thomson ISI, which registered the original discovery paper as the most cited in year 2004, can be found following the link "THOMSON-ISI" from the home page. Details on the Descartes Prize awarded to our group can be found following the link "Awards" from the Home page.

An artistic view of the double pulsar system, a rare laboratory of gravity physics. My research group: Andrea Possenti, myself, and Marta Burgay, at the site were we are building the Sardinia Radio Telescope, near Cagliari. The Parkes radio telescope, in Australia, where we discovered the double pulsar. A complex pulsar backend developed at Parkes, played a major role in the discovery of the double pulsar. Dick Manchester, and myself at Parkes, testing the pulsar observing system.