29.9 MB (2.5 MB compressed)
3948 x 2649 pixels
33.5 x 22.4 cm ⏐ 13.2 x 8.8 in (300dpi)
LYNETTE COOK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY LYNETTE COOK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Pulsar planet. Artwork of pulsar PSR 1257+12 (upper left, with beams coming out of it) seen from a hypothetical planet orbiting it. Pulsars are rapidly-rotating neutron stars which emit radio waves in two narrow beams. They are only seen from Earth if one of these beams crosses Earth during the pulsar's rotation. Here, the pulsar's extreme radiation is causing aurorae (green) to form in the planet's atmosphere. PSR 1257+12 has an extremely fast rotation speed. Pulsars are formed in supernova explosions. As a supernova would destroy any planets around it, the three planets that have been detected around this pulsar must have formed since the explosion.
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