One of the most alluring objects in the cosmic world are pulsars. They are spherical and compact bodies whose size may be equivalent to cities such as New York but contain more mass than that of a sun. They belong from the family of neutron stars. There is a misconception that these pulsars are kind of flickering stars as they keep on flickering with a frequent rhythm when seen from the Earth. But in the actual world, pulsars don’t flicker rather emit two steady and fine beam of light in opposite directions. Though the light is steady, it still flickers because of the Pulsar’s spin.
Number of detections and types
Till date around 2000 pulsars have been detected, out of which most of them are slow. slow rotating Pulsars rotate at a rate of one spin/second. The other Pulsars are millisecond pulsars, rotating at hundred spins/second. Being highly magnetic in nature, their magnetic field ranges from 100 million times to 1 quadrillion times stronger when compared to the Earth’s magnetic field. There are five kinds of pulsars (radio, x-ray, gamma ray, optical pulsars out of which gamma ray being the youngest and the rarest).
Why do they spin so fast?
Stars that later turn into pulsars have angular momentum. When the star goes supernova, its size decreases multiple times. But, angular momentum has to be conserved (meaning it has to remain the same). The smaller the radius of a spinning object becomes, the faster it spins. Therefore, a pulsar too has a fast spin.
How are they detected?
Pulsars are discovered using radio telescopes. Most pulsars are observed to lie within planetary nebulae (remnants of a star after going supernova). Crab Nebula, one of the most famous Planetary Nebula, also hosts a pulsar pulsar is one of them.
The Parkes radio Telescope in Australia discovered more than half of all known Pulsars.
Pulsars are the biggest source of information about neutron stars. Pulsars are said to be the most accurate clock in the universe because of their precise blinking. It basically helps the scientists to detect the presence of the alien planets. In fact the credit for the discovery of the first planet out of the solar system goes to the pulsars, as it was found orbiting the pulsar.