MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Pulsar. Computer illustration of a pulsar showing its emission mechanism. Pulsars are rapidly rotating neutron stars which cast out narrow beams of energy (blue) as they rotate. The beams are confined by extremely strong magnetic fields (green). Any pulsar whose beam chances to cross Earth will appear to be flashing like a lighthouse, with regular pulses of energy sweeping across Earth. Pulsars rotate extremely fast, with periods ranging from hundredths of seconds to a few seconds. The pulse is visible from radio to X- ray wavelengths. Pulsars are formed in supernova explosions, and are composed of the star's collapsed core at the density of nuclear matter.
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