Jocelyn Bell, a graduate student studying astronomy, made the groundbreaking discovery of the first pulsar on February 24, 1968.
How a scruff lead Jocelyn Bell discover pulsars?
A “bit of scruff” in her telescope’s data had been noticed by her a few months earlier. Every 1.3 seconds, a signal was sending out pulses. She and Anthony Hewish, her advisor, initially thought it might have been from another planet. When they discovered another signal emanating from a different region of the sky, they ruled out that possibility.
Before publishing their findings, Bell and Hewish discovered four pulsars but had no explanation for them. Since then, it has been discovered that pulsars are neutron stars that spin quickly and emit narrow beams of light in opposite directions.
WHAT ARE PULSARS?
Some of the most bizarre things in the universe are neutron stars. They are the atomic nuclei-density leftover cores of massive stars that have been dead for a long time. The surface’s gravitational pull is so strong that “mountains” are only a few centimeters high, and a fall from that height would reach tens of thousands of miles per hour at the end.
They are almost entirely made of neutrons, but there are protons scattered throughout their interior. As the much larger progenitor star collapsed into much smaller volumes, the conservation of angular momentum caused neutron stars to spin extremely quickly. The rapid rotation and the remaining electrical charge produced by the surviving protons produce enormous magnetic fields.
There is a peculiarly strong magnetic field; Indeed, they are the universe’s most known magnetic systems, with a magnitude that is easily a trillion times greater than the Earth’s own field. The magnetic fields are strong enough to break molecular bonds and change the shape of atoms themselves at a distance of 620 miles (1,000 kilometers).
An electric field is created as a result of the changing magnetic field, which in turn generates a new changing magnetic field. A beam of radiation escapes the neutron star’s magnetic poles as a result of this interaction. The beam of radiation travels in a circle into deep space if the magnetic poles are not aligned with the axis of rotation, as they are on Earth.
We are able to detect a pulse of radio emission with each rotation if the beam flashes over the Earth; this is why they are called “pulsars.”
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