Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New light shed on pulsars

Date:
August 31, 2011
Source:
National University of Ireland, Galway
Summary:
Astronomers have made an important breakthrough in the understanding of how pulsars work. Using a new inverse mapping or reverse engineering approach, researchers were able to establish for the first time that most of the light from the pulsar comes from close to the star's surface. This is contrary to most pulsar models and points to a new way of analysing observational data from pulsars.

NUI Galway researchers looked at the pulsar PSR J0357.
Credit: Image courtesy of National University of Ireland, Galway

Astronomers from NUI Galway's Centre for Astronomy have made an important breakthrough in the understanding of how pulsars work, and have recently published their findings in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Related Articles


The team, led by NUI Galway's Dr Andy Shearer, compared optical observations with a detailed model of the structure of the pulsar. From this, using their inverse mapping or reverse engineering approach, they were able to establish for the first time that most of the light from the pulsar comes from close to the star's surface. This is contrary to most pulsar models and points to a new way of analysing observational data from pulsars.

Dr Shearer said: "This is the culmination of ten years work. Our success is based upon having some talented post-graduate students and post-doctoral researchers combined with looking at the problem in a different way. The result shows the importance of our approach of combining numerical models run on large supercomputers with detailed observations. To follow these calculations we will use the SFI funded Galway Astronomical Stokes Polarimeter (GASP) to finally establish the conditions around a pulsar and solve a forty year old problem -- how do pulsars work?"

In another development, NUI Galway astronomers, working with colleagues in Italy, the UK and US, have discovered an X-ray bright tail coming from a pulsar. The tail was discovered by combining optical observations taken with the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope and NASA's Chandra X-Ray observatory. The pulsar, known as PSR J0357, is about half a million years old and is located 1,600 light years from Earth with a tail of over four light years across. These findings have been recently published in The Astrophysical Journal.

Despite over forty years of observation and theory, pulsars, which are rapidly rotating neutron stars, have defied an explanation of how they work. Pulsars are about one and a half times the mass of the sun, but are so small they could fit into Galway Bay. Consequently they represent extreme matter. They have a magnetic field which can be greater than a million billion times stronger than Earth's magnetic field. Their density is also about a million, billion times greater than the density of Earth. They are formed during a massive explosion at the end of a star's life known as a Type II supernova. During a supernova, the light from a single star outshines its host galaxy which contains up to a hundred billion stars.

The work at NUI Galway involved observations of the Crab pulsar formed in April 1054 when it was observed as a daytime star -- unusually, very few observations of this event come from Europe, although it was observed by Irish monks and recorded in the Irish Annals.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National University of Ireland, Galway. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J. Mc Donald, P. O’ Connor, D. de Burca, A. Golden, A. Shearer. Inverse mapping of polarized optical emission from pulsars: basic formulation and determination of emission altitude. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, August 22, 2011 DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2966.2011.19318.x

Cite This Page:

National University of Ireland, Galway. "New light shed on pulsars." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 August 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110830081540.htm>.
National University of Ireland, Galway. (2011, August 31). New light shed on pulsars. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110830081540.htm
National University of Ireland, Galway. "New light shed on pulsars." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110830081540.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Scientists Find Invisible Space Shield Protecting Earth

Scientists Find Invisible Space Shield Protecting Earth

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) An invisible barrier is keeping dangerous super fast electrons from interfering with our atmosphere, but scientists aren't entirely sure how. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA's First 3-D Printer In Space Creates Its First Object

NASA's First 3-D Printer In Space Creates Its First Object

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) The International Space Station is now using a proof-of-concept 3D printer to test additive printing in a weightless, isolated environment. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 25, 2014) Take a stab at this -- stunt video shows a lamb chop's journey from an east London restaurant over 30 kilometers into space. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Soyuz Spacecraft Docks With International Space Station: NASA

Soyuz Spacecraft Docks With International Space Station: NASA

AFP (Nov. 24, 2014) A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying Italy's first female astronaut safely docks with the International Space Station, according to NASA. Duration: 00:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins