Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Rocks around the clock: Asteroids pound tiny star

Date:
February 20, 2014
Source:
CSIRO Australia
Summary:
Scientists have found evidence that a tiny star called PSR J0738-4042 is being pounded by asteroids -- large lumps of rock from space. The environment around this star is especially harsh, full of radiation and violent winds of particles.

An artist's impression of an asteroid breaking up.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Scientists using CSIRO's Parkes telescope and another telescope in South Africa have found evidence that a tiny star called PSR J0738-4042 is being pounded by asteroids -- large lumps of rock from space.

"One of these rocks seems to have had a mass of about a billion tonnes," CSIRO astronomer and member of the research team Dr Ryan Shannon said.

PSR J0738-4042 lies 37,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Puppis.

The environment around this star is especially harsh, full of radiation and violent winds of particles.

"If a large rocky object can form here, planets could form around any star. That's exciting," Dr Shannon said.

The star is a special one, a 'pulsar' that emits a beam of radio waves.

As the star spins, its radio beam flashes over Earth again and again with the regularity of a clock.

In 2008 Dr Shannon and a colleague predicted how an infalling asteroid would affect a pulsar. It would, they said, alter the slowing of the pulsar's spin rate and the shape of the radio pulse that we see on Earth.

"That is exactly what we see in this case," Dr Shannon said.

"We think the pulsar's radio beam zaps the asteroid, vaporising it. But the vaporised particles are electrically charged and they slightly alter the process that creates the pulsar's beam."

Asteroids around a pulsar could be created by the exploding star that formed the pulsar itself, the scientists say.

The material blasted out from the explosion could fall back towards the forming pulsar, forming a disk of debris.

Astronomers have found a dust disk around another pulsar called J0146+61.

"This sort of dust disk could provide the 'seeds' that grow into larger asteroids," said Mr Paul Brook, a PhD student co-supervised by the University of Oxford and CSIRO who led the study of PSR J0738-4042.

In 1992 two planet-sized objects were found around a pulsar called PSR 1257+12. But these were probably formed by a different mechanism, the astronomers say.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by CSIRO Australia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. P. R. Brook, A. Karastergiou, S. Buchner, S. J. Roberts, M. J. Keith, S. Johnston, R. M. Shannon. EVIDENCE OF AN ASTEROID ENCOUNTERING A PULSAR. The Astrophysical Journal, 2014; 780 (2): L31 DOI: 10.1088/2041-8205/780/2/L31

Cite This Page:

CSIRO Australia. "Rocks around the clock: Asteroids pound tiny star." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140220095003.htm>.
CSIRO Australia. (2014, February 20). Rocks around the clock: Asteroids pound tiny star. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140220095003.htm
CSIRO Australia. "Rocks around the clock: Asteroids pound tiny star." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140220095003.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Supply Ship Takes Off for International Space Station

Supply Ship Takes Off for International Space Station

AFP (July 30, 2014) The European Space Agency's fifth Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV-5) is takes off to the International Space Station on an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana. Duration: 00:34 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship

Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship

AP (July 30, 2014) Arianespace launched a rocket Tuesday from French Guiana carrying a robotic cargo ship to deliver provisions to the International Space Station. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

AP (July 30, 2014) Every summer, tourists make the pilgrimage to Chincoteague Island, Va. to see wild ponies cross the Assateague Channel. But, it's the rockets sending to supplies to the International Space Station that are making this a year-round destination. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The satellite is back under ground control after a tense few days, but with a gecko sex experiment on board, the media just couldn't help themselves. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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