Interested in helping astronomers search outer space? It’s possible with a program called Einstein@Home, which allows your computer, when it’s idle, to help scientists search the skies for pulsars and other neutron stars. The idea behind the program, called distributed computing, is straightforward: downloaded software connects your home computer with thousands of others throughout the world that have the program, and which combined have the computational power of a supercomputer that can analyze very large amounts of data without the extremely high costs associated with unique, custom-made supercomputers. When your PC is not being used, the program downloads LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) data from a central server and searches for gravitational-wave sources. Such waves are discharged by neutron stars, which are dense celestial bodies chiefly composed of neutrons, believed to be formed by the gravitational collapse of a star, and pulsars, rapidly rotating neutron stars that emit regular radio waves. Discovering such celestial objects can provide important insights on matter at high densities.
Find out more and enter here to volunteer and download the software.