Catching Neutron Bursts
The KAT-7 radio observatory is made of seven dishes, 12 meters across, in the Northern Cape area of South Africa meant to test engineering for the upcoming MeerKAT observatory. The astronomers using KAT-7, however, are doing more than just tinkering with schematics -- they had a scientific paper accepted for publication last week. The observatory has been pointed at Circinus X-1, binary star system that includes a neutron star. KAT-7 caught two strong flares during the month of observation, which can tell astronomers how mass is accreted by neutron stars and other dense objects, like black holes. Above is an artist impression of the binary system and its powerful jets.
Image: South Africa Square Kilometre Array / KAT-7