Neutron Stars and Pulsars

How many pulsars have been discovered?

The magnetar phenomenon is a highly energetic, short-lived phase in the lives of a small fraction of all known neutron stars. These “soft gamma repeaters,” as they are also known, are not the so-called gamma-ray bursts; rather, it may be possible that magnetars are what is left after a supernova in a very fast-spinning, high-mass star produces a gamma-ray burst. This hypothesis has yet to be confirmed, however.

To date, about two thousand pulsars have been found throughout our galaxy. Perhaps the best known one is the Crab Nebula pulsar. It is at the center of the Crab Nebula and is a remnant from a supernova that was first observed in 1054 C.E. It pulses once every thirty-three milliseconds; it is remarkable to imagine a body the mass of the Sun spinning more than thirty times per second!


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