Double Pulsar

I forgot to mention this at the time (8th January) because I had known about it since before Christmas and got carried away with all the Mars missions.

Astronomers from Jodrell Bank, Australia, Italy, India and the USA have announced the first discovered double pulsar system in Science Express (annoyingly it requires a subscription so go here for the press release). A pulsar is the collapsed middle of a star more massive than our Sun (the Sun is about 1 million times the mass of the Earth) squashed into a space the size of Manchester. They emit 'beams' of radio waves and rotate on their axis, making them a bit like radio lighthouses. In this system, one of the pulsars rotates once every 23 thousandths of a seconds (pretty extreme eh?) and the other rotates every 2.8 seconds. The extreme nature of the system has allowed the study of four effects which can test Einstein's general relativity (it has passed so far). It also means that the gravity wave detectors now stand a better chance of being able to detect gravity waves.

Why not do the gravity wave crossword?

Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Monday 26th Jan 2004 (15:40 UTC) | Permalink
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