Neutron star and white dwarf system

Neutron star and white dwarf system

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Credit: ESO/L. Calcada/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

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Caption: Neutron star and white dwarf system. Computer illustration showing the exotic double object that consists of a tiny, but very heavy neutron star that spins 25 times each second (right), orbited every two and a half hours by a white dwarf star (left). The neutron star is a pulsar named PSR J0348+0432 that is giving off radio waves that can be picked up on Earth by radio telescopes. This unusual pair provides a unique laboratory for testing the limits of physical theories. The system is radiating gravitational radiation, ripples in spacetime. Although these waves cannot be yet detected directly by astronomers on Earth they can be detected indirectly by measuring the change in the orbit of the system as it loses energy. As the pulsar is so small the relative sizes of the two objects are not drawn to scale.

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