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Planet orbiting a pulsar star

Planet orbiting a pulsar star

R650/0076

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Credit

JOHN FOSTER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JOHN FOSTER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Pulsar planets. Artwork of two planets around a pulsar. The pulsar (upper right) has two beams of energy coming from its poles. Pulsars are rapidly rotating neutron stars which cast out narrow beams of energy as they rotate. Their rotation is extremely fast, ranging from hundredths of seconds to a few seconds. The pulse is visible in all forms of radiation from radio to X-ray wave- lengths. It is likely that any planets surrounding a pulsar would be barren. This is partly due to the high-energy emissions from the pulsar itself, but mainly due to the fact that pulsars are formed in supernova explosions, which would sterilise any planets in the vicinity.

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