The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has surveyed the sky in gamma-rays and revealed hundreds of unidentified gamma-ray sources. Here the Fermi newly discovered millisecond pulsars are shown overlaid on a Fermi map of the gamma-ray sky at energies above 1 GeV.
The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has surveyed the sky in gamma-rays and revealed hundreds of unidentified gamma-ray sources. Here the Fermi newly discovered millisecond pulsars are shown overlaid on a Fermi map of the gamma-ray sky at energies above 1 GeV.

Objective
Search for millisecond pulsars in the gamma-ray data from the Fermi Large Area Telescope and well as ground based data from the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia. The computationally intensive searches are for pulsations from the gamma-ray sources to identify them as rapidly-spinning neutron stars, called ‘pulsars’.

Approach
Fermi Large Area Telescope (LAT):

  • NRL is one of a consortium of US and international partners for the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope (NASA/DoE), and led development of the Fermi Large Area Telescope (LAT) calorimeter.
  • Fermi-LAT data on diffuse Galactic gas is analyzed and fit

High Performance Computing MSP Searches

  • Develop and apply HPC codes for blind searches for gamma-ray millisecond pulsars (MSPs), to constrain the population of radio-quiet MSPs
  • Apply these results to evaluation of MSP navigation

Deliverable/Value/Accomplishment

  • Arrays of MSPs can serve as a kind of natural analog to GPS, allowing spacecraft to derive precise navigation and timekeeping information; cf U.S. Patent 7,197,381 awarded (UMD and NRL) for “Navigational System and Method Utilizing Sources of Pulsed Celestial Radiation”
  • Gain a deeper understanding of neutron stars and the energetic phenomena that they power—such as black widow and redback MSPs—in regimes inaccessible to laboratory experiments