40 years later, astronomers revisit the pulsar from ‘Unknown Pleasures’

The English rock band Joy Division released their debut studio album “Unknown Pleasures” 40 years ago. The front cover doesn’t feature any words, only a now iconic black and white data graph showing 80 wiggly lines representing a signal from a pulsar in space. To mark the anniversary of the album, we recorded a signal from the same pulsar with a radio telescope in Jodrell Bank Observatory, only 14 miles (23 km) away from Strawberry Studios where the album was recorded.

Peter Saville – graphic designer and co-founder of Factory Records – designed the album cover based on a picture spotted by band member Bernard Sumner in an encyclopedia. The picture itself can be traced to the work of the postgraduate student Harold Craft, who published the image in his PhD thesis in 1970.