Andrew Zolotov


Ivan Zolotukhin


April 2017

Artwork, explaining the essence of the new approach in the detection of rare celestial bodies, allowing to discover them an order of magnitude easier and faster

Making illustrations for scientific discoveries is difficult: today’s research is so non-trivial and deep that it can be extremely difficult to understand what is actually being discovered. And when you do figure it out, it is even more challenging to tell the essence of the invention in one illustration in a way that makes it clear not only to scientists but also to the average person. Moreover, the illustration should be scientifically correct, because it will be published in scientific publications. The task is not easy, but when a friend asks for help, it is impossible to refuse!
So we call the discoverer, Ivan Zolotukhin, and he tells us the essence of the discovery: using mathematical methods to analyze a large amount of data – observations from the space telescope over 13 years – we were able to discover several new celestial bodies, which are called pulsars. Thanks to the mathematical methods developed, it is possible to discover unique pulsars that could not have been discovered before simply by observing them with a telescope. There is so little light reaching Earth (12 photons of light per minute) that they cannot be detected in a single observing session of several hours, but must be stored for weeks.
To make an illustration directly by the mathematical method is not necessary – it would be boring and too complicated, so, for clarity, we will show the possibilities of the new method on the example of the most unique of the pulsars found. One that has never been found before.


One page of fifteen explaining the essence of the mathematical method for finding new pulsars. © Ivan Zolotukhin et al. (2017)


What’s the complexity of the invention? From the 17th century until the end of the 20th century, to discover new celestial bodies, astronomers looked at the starry sky through the peephole of a telescope, looking for interesting objects and observing them. That has changed with the advent of electronic telescopes – each of them captures several terabytes of data overnight, which takes several years to view. Therefore, to make discoveries in the 21st century, you not only need to understand astronomy but also to be able to work with big data. In particular, for this discovery algorithms processed a database of 50 billion (!!!) photons of light.


What’s the uniqueness of the found pulsar? The discovered pulsar rotates 10 times slower than previously known pulsars of this type, it is also 3 orders of magnitude younger than the globular cluster of stars within which it is located, and in addition, it captured a passing star and made its companion, which does not often happen in the stellar world.

Okay, we’ve got it figured out, let’s start creating an illustration. More precisely, the illustrations, because it turned out that we need two of them – one without text, only with an illustration of the position of the found pulsar, and the other with a detailed description of the discovery.

We begin with the most important thing – the drawing of the pulsar. There are no pictures of the pulsar, as they are all far away from us, so they look like white dots in the images. But there is a theoretical model described by scientists:

Pulsars are a highly magnetic, rapidly spinning neutron stars with a diameter of only 20 km but with the mass 1,4 times larger than the Sun. The discovered pulsar is orbited by a less massive star 3 million km across. It pulls the gas from the companion star, the matter then inspirals to the pulsar’s surface and makes a hot spot which is seen from the distance of 2,5 million light years like a pulsating light due to the rotation of the neutron star..

Next, it is necessary to reflect the location of the found pulsar. We take the source code from the scientists:


And we find out that the pulsar is found in the Andromeda Galaxy (2.5 million light years away), in a globular cluster of stars. Scientists want the illustration to reflect nesting, as in the original photos. Drawing the Andromeda Galaxy:


A spherical cluster of stars does not require much detail and can be shown schematically. It remains to finish drawing the companion star and to reflect the nesting:


The illustration for the scientific article is ready. Now the most interesting thing: is to create an illustration with an explanation of the essence of the discovery, its complexity, and its uniqueness.

We add a header, characteristics of the objects displayed, and blocks describing the uniqueness of the discovery and its complexity. Since not everyone knows where the Andromeda Galaxy is, we show how far away it is. And we make the images of the galaxies more conventional, since in the small size, the detailed version is no longer readable.

Already interesting! Now we need to specify not only the absolute parameters of the pulsar but also the relative ones so that it is clear how it differs from the already known ones, as well as to add its definition. And add small but nice details, which are interesting to look at, block copywriting, and can be published.
The artwork has been published in several scholarly publications, and the study itself became central to Ivan’s doctoral dissertation.

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