Scientists have discovered a new pulsing object that they believe could be a “fast-rotating neutron star”. Fast rotation would cause a star to emit a beam of electromagnetic radiation, and this behavior is known as pulsing. If the scientists are correct, this discovery could alter our understanding of the universe!
“I have personally been looking for something like this for a decade,” says Giorgis Leloudas, the article’s lead author. “It is so exciting to finally find one.”
What is a pulsar and what are its uses for astronomers
Pulsars are rotating neutron stars that emit beams of electromagnetic radiation from their poles. They were first observed as radio waves in 1967 by Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Antony Hewish. Because these pulses of radiation occur at such precise intervals, scientists use them as cosmic clocks to measure vast distances. These objects are very helpful to astronomers as they can be used for navigation by spacecraft and even test the effects of gravity on light.
The article goes on to state that neutron stars are a type of stellar remnant first created when a massive star explodes as a supernova. They are so dense that they can rotate up to 1000 times per second, emitting a pulsar beam in the process. Scientists don’t know what causes neutron stars to rotate in this manner or how these beams are formed.
“We have little observational information about how fast neutron stars rotate,” says Leloudas.
The article goes on to state that Leloudas and his team used the Low-Frequency Array (LOFAR), a radio telescope in the Netherlands, to observe low-frequency waves coming from “this pulsing object”. LOFAR is able to pick up radio emissions within our galaxy, the Milky Way.
Leloudas says that this discovery opens up new areas of research. “The next step is to re-analyze all the data we already have in hand, and try to find more pulsars.” The article ends with another quote by Leloudos: “I think it is time for the theoreticians in this field to start reconsidering their views,” he says.