What is a Pulsar?

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Quick Explanation

So, what is a pulsar? Pulsars are one of the most exotic astronomical objects. Observed for years, Pulsars were not even remotely understood or formally discovered until the late 1970s. Pulsars are one of the various unique and extreme remnants created when a star dies.

The violent pressure created during a star’s death smash the star’s entire mass into a 12-mile-wide ball of neutrons! This tightly-packed ball shoots jets of excess energy out of its poles, causing the leftover star to spin incredibly fast. If the star is spinning in just the right direction, we can detect the energy from these jets each time they pass by Earth. These “pulses” of energy we detect are where Pulsars get their name!

There’s a lot of very complicated stuff happening in Pulsars (and stars in general). This episode of Less Than Five breaks down Pulsars so you can understand the big picture of what’s going on in these wild little star corpses!

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