Home > Astronomy, Astrophysics, General Astronomy, Pulsars, X-Rays > Baffling Pulsar Leaves Astronomers In The Dark

Baffling Pulsar Leaves Astronomers In The Dark


New observations of a highly variable pulsar using ESA’s XMM-Newton are perplexing astronomers. Monitoring this pulsar simultaneously in X-rays and radio waves, astronomers have revealed that this source, whose radio emission is known to ‘switch on and off’ periodically, exhibits the same behaviour, but in reverse, when observed at X-ray wavelengths. It is the first time that a switching X-ray emission has been detected from a pulsar, and the properties of this emission are unexpectedly puzzling. As no current model is able to explain this switching behaviour, which occurs within only a few seconds, these observations have reopened the debate about the physical mechanisms powering the emission from pulsars.

“There is a general agreement about the origin of the radio emission from pulsars: it is caused by highly energetic electrons, positrons and ions moving along the field lines of the pulsar’s magnetic field, and we see it pulsate because the rotation and magnetic axes are misaligned,” explains Wim Hermsen from SRON, the Netherlands Institute for Space Research in Utrecht, The Netherlands. “How exactly the particles are stripped off the neutron star’s surface and accelerated to such high energy, however, is still largely unclear,” he adds.

Full Story: http://sci.esa.int/science-e/www/object/index.cfm?fobjectid=51314
Also: http://www.astron.nl/about-astron/press-public/news/chameleon-pulsar-baffles-astronomers/chameleon-pulsar-baffles-astro-0

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