Friday, October 17, 2008

A New kind of Pulsar

A new kind of pulsar has been discovered by NASA'S Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope. The discovery adds to the growing pile ( nearly 1,800) of pulsars cataloged by astronomers.

But this pulsar is different-it beams only in Gamma rays, a property never before observed in pulsars.

Usually, pulsars are found through their radiowavelength beams. This marks the first time an all gamma ray energy pulsar has been spotted. The pulsar lies peripherally in the corpse of the CTA 1 supernova, located about 4,600 light-years away from Earth, in the constellation Cepheus.

Scientists believe CTA is only the first of a large population of similar objects. Based on the corpse's age and the pulsar's distance from its center, astronomers believe the neutron star is moving at about a million miles per hour, a typical speed.

A pulsar is a rapidly spinning neutron star, the crushed core left behind when a supernova explodes and its remnants collapse back together, welding into a messy conglomerate of of proton and electrons but mostly neutrons (hence the name neutron star).

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