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Pulsar

Pulsar

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Pulsar
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Cycle of pulsed gamma rays from the Vela pulsar.  A
pulsar
 pulsating star 
) is a highly magnetized, rotating neutron star  that emits a beam of  electromagnetic radiation.This radiation can only be observed when the beam of emission is pointing towards the Earth, much the way a lighthousecan only be seen when the light is pointed in the direction of an observer, and isresponsible for the pulsed appearance of emission. Neutron stars are very dense,and have short, regular rotational periods.This produces a very precise interval between pulses that range from roughly milliseconds to seconds for an individual pulsar.The precise periods of pulsars makes them useful tools. Observations of a pulsar in abinary neutron star system were used to indirectly confirm the existence of  gravitationalradiation.The first extrasolar planets were discovered around a pulsar, PSR B1257+12.  Certain types of pulsars rival atomic clocks in their accuracy in keeping time.
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Discovery
Composite Optical/X-ray image of the Crab Nebula,showing synchrotron emission in the surrounding pulsar wind nebula,powered by injection of magnetic fields and particles from the central pulsar.The first pulsar was observed on November 28, 1967, by Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Antony Hewish.
 The observed emission from the pulsar was pulses separated by1.33 seconds, originated from the same location on the sky, and kept to sidereal time.In looking for explanations for the pulses, the short period of the pulses eliminated mostastrophysical sources of radiation, such as stars,and since the pulses followed sidereal time, it could not be man-made radio frequency interference.When observations with another telescope confirmed the emission, it eliminated any sort of instrumental effects.At this point, Burnell notes of herself and Hewish that "we did not really believe that wehad picked up signals from another civilization, but obviously the idea had crossed ourminds and we had no proof that it was an entirely natural radio emission. It is aninteresting problem
 — 
if one thinks one may have detected life elsewhere in the universe,how does one announce the results responsibly?"
 Even so, they nicknamed the signal
LGM-1
, for"little green men"(a playful name for intelligent beings of extraterrestrial origin). It was not until a second pulsating source was discovered in a different part of the sky that the "LGM hypothesis" was entirely abandoned.
 Their pulsar was laterdubbed 
,and is now known by a number of designators including
PSR1919+21
,
PSR B1919+21
and
PSR J1921+2153
. Although CP 1919 emits in radiowavelengths,pulsars have, subsequently, been found to emit in visible light, X-ray,  and/or gamma ray wavelengths.
 The word "pulsar" is a contraction of "pulsating star",
 and first appeared in print in1968:An entirely novel kind of star came to light on Aug. 6 last year and was referred to, byastronomers, as LGM (Little Green Men). Now it is thought to be a novel type betweena white dwarf and a neutron [
sic
]. The name Pulsar is likely to be given to it. Dr. A.
 
Hewish told me yesterday: "… I am sure that today every radio telescope is looking at
the Pulsars."
 The suggestion that pulsars were rotating neutron stars was put forth independently byThomas Gold and Franco Pacini in 1968, and was soon proven beyond reasonable doubt by the discovery of a pulsar with a very short (33-millisecond)pulse period in the Crab nebula. In 1974, Antony Hewish became the first astronomer to be awarded the Nobel Prize inphysics.Considerable controversy is associated with the fact that Professor Hewish wasawarded the prize while Bell, who made the initial discovery while she was his Ph.Dstudent, was not. Bell claims no bitterness upon this point, supporting the decision of the Nobel prize committee.
 The Vela Pulsar and its surrounding pulsar wind nebula.  In 1974, Joseph Hooton Taylor, Jr. and Russell Hulse discovered for the first time a pulsar in a binary system, PSR B1913+16.This pulsar orbits another neutron star with an orbital period of just eight hours. Einstein's theory of  general relativity predicts that this system should emit strong gravitational radiation,causing the orbit to continually contract as it loses orbital energy.Observations of the pulsar soon confirmed this prediction, providing the first ever evidence of the existence of gravitational waves. Asof 2004, observations of this pulsar continue to agree with general relativity. In 1993,the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Taylor and Hulse for the discovery of thispulsar.
 In 1982, Don Backer led a group which discovered PSR B1937+21,a pulsar with a rotation period of just 1.6 milliseconds.
 Observations soon revealed that its magneticfield was much weaker than ordinary pulsars, while further discoveries cemented theidea that a new class of object, the"millisecond pulsars" (MSPs) had been found. MSPs are believed to be the end product of  X-ray binaries.Owing to their extraordinarily rapid and stable rotation, MSPs can be used by astronomers as clocks rivaling the stability of the best atomic clocks on Earth. Factors affecting the arrival time of pulses at the Earth by more than a few hundred nanoseconds can be easily detected and used to make precise measurements. Physical parameters accessible through pulsar timinginclude the 3D position of the pulsar, its proper motion,the electron content of the interstellar medium along the propagation path, the orbital parameters of any binary

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