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An Explosive Stellar Encounter

Pulsars are bizarre, exceptionally whirling, and incredibly young neutron stars. A neutron star is the crushed heart of what was formerly a huge star that has expired in the volatile grand finale of a supernova burst. Really, these very highly magnetized, rotating pulsars are city-sized, exceptionally dense “oddballs”! Back in July 2015, astronomers announced that they’re anticipating a particularly outstanding leading fireworks display in early 2018, when a pulsar how big San Francisco, meets up with a few of the brightest stars inhabiting our barred-spiral Milky Way Galaxy. This fantastic stellar performance will occur when a pulsar seen by NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope takes a swing with its companion star, and astronomers are planning a global database at to discover the event from radio wavelengths into the highest-energy gamma-rays detectable.

The pulsar, dubbed J2032 4127 (J2032 for short) is a magnetized world, about 12 kilometers across, which shoots out a normal beam of electromagnetic radiation, also weighs-in at nearly two times our Sun’s mass–turning roughly seven times per minute! J2032’s extremely quick twist, and powerful magnetic field, together generates a lighthouse-like beam detectable as it sweeps our way. Radiation from a pulsar can simply be seen when the ray of hay is pointing in the Earth, at substantially the exact same manner that a lighthouse can only be viewed when the light is pointed at the direction of an observer–and can also be accountable for its pulsed appearance of this emission. Neutron stars are very compact, and also have regular, short rotational periods. This creates an extremely exact interval between pulses ranging roughly from milliseconds to minutes for a single pulsar.

Astronomers discover most pulsars via radio emissions, but Fermi’s Large Area Telescope (LAT) places them via pulses of gamma rays, the most energetic form of light. Fermi is a space observatory which has been used to perform gamma-ray astronomy from low-Earth orbit. The LAT is the primary instrument on Fermi, which premiered on June 11, 2008 aboard a Delta II rocket. The assignment is a joint venture of NASA, the U.S. Department of Energy, and agencies in France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Sweden.

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