By Kate Yan
China’s tech giant Tencent has joined the country’s public efforts of pulsar hunt with its artificial intelligence resources, China Daily reported on January 30. Pulsars, or rapidly rotating neutron stars, are among the research frontiers.
Tencent's YouTu Lab has applied its computer vision technology as well as its cloud computing and storage capability, to help FAST seek celestial objects and phenomena like pulsars. FAST is the world's largest single-dish radio telescope located in Southwest China's Guizhou province.
Study of pulsars can help researchers understand extreme states of matter and events like collisions of black holes. In an astronomical sense, a pulsar is equivalent to GPS used for ground navigation.
"For the first time, we were able to use AI to help find 22 pulsars, which included seven high-speed rotating millisecond pulsars with high scientific value in astrophysics," said Li Di, chief scientist of FAST. Study of pulsars can help researchers understand extreme states of matter and events like collisions of black holes.
"But the main bottleneck is how to find qualified signals from massive observational data," Wang said. "FAST generates huge amount of data and about 30 million to 100 million signal images per week."
"After hard work, it now takes only three days for AI to complete the workload that used to take a year. AI has helped FAST to increase the efficiency of searching for pulsars by 120 times," Wang Chengjie, the lead researcher from Tencent's YouTu Lab, told China Daily.
FAST’s Li added, "Since the first discovery of pulsars in 1967, about 3,500 pulsars have been discovered globally. AI and other cutting-edge technologies have helped accelerate the systematic discovery of pulsars."
Making that possible is China's emergence as a pioneer in the field of AI, which, according to market consultancy McKinsey, is expected to create $600 billion in economic value annually for China.
Market consultancy IDC predicted that China's AI investment is expected to reach $26.69 billion in 2026, accounting for about 8.9 percent of global investment, ranking second in the world.