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Binary pulsars and gravitational waves

Binary pulsars and gravitational waves

C042/9576

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99.7 MB (11.6 MB compressed)

5112 x 6816 pixels

43.2 x 57.7 cm ⏐ 17.0 x 22.7 in (300dpi)

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Credit

DAVID PARKER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DAVID PARKER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Illustration of binary pulsars rotating around each other, producing gravitational waves. A pulsar is a rotating neutron star that produces periodic signals in Earth detectors as its beam of radiation sweeps over Earth once per rotation. A binary pulsar may have the additional feature of a measurable decrease in the orbital period as the two pulsars spiral inward toward each other. This change in the orbital period can be attributed to energy loss due to the emission of gravity waves, and the rate of energy loss can be calculated from Einstein's general relativity. Therefore the measurement of the rate of change of the orbital period provides a test of general relativity. Although the formation of jets is not fully understood, it is generally believed that they result when the magnetic field of the central object interacts with the magnetic field of the surrounding accretion disc.

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