What are some major characteristics of a pulsar?

1 Answer

A pulsar is a magnetised and rapidly spinning neutron star.


The term pulsar is short for pulsating radio star. The first pulsar was discovered in 1967 by Jocelyn Bell Brunell. They emit regular pulses of radio wave radiation.

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Pulsars are neutron stars which are formed when the core of a large star collapses during a supernova explosion. The neutron star is very small compared with the original star and as it retains most of the star's angular momentum it spins very rapidly.

If the neutron star has a strong magnetic field is emits radio wave radiation as it spins. As the magnetic field doesn't have to be aligned with the spin axis what is observed is a periodic pulse of radio waves as the neutron star spins. The pulse occurs every time the magnetic filed axis points towards the observer.

The first observed pulsar was observed to emit a radio pulse every 1.33 seconds.