Lorimer, Duncan Department of Physics, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia.
Last reviewed:March 2019
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- Neutron stars
- Pulsed emission
- Spectra and links to other wavelengths
- Interstellar medium
- Galactic distribution
- Millisecond pulsars
- Binary pulsars
- Double pulsar system
- Globular-cluster pulsars
- White dwarf pulsars
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
A dense stellar remnant that rapidly rotates, sweeping beams of electromagnetic radiation through space like a lighthouse. A pulsar is nearly always a fast-spinning neutron star leftover from the collapse of a massive star, though in rare instances a white dwarf star can exhibit pulsar-like behavior. The beams of radiation emanate from pulsars' magnetic poles. Multiple mechanisms can generate the beams, including rapid spinning, accretion of matter, or by the decay of an intensely strong magnetic field in the case of objects known as magnetars. The spin rate of pulsars ranges from milliseconds to hours (Fig. 1). Because of their extreme magnetism, density, rotation, and other properties, pulsars are highly valued objects for investigating fundamental physics of matter and the forces of nature. See also: Fundamental interactions; Gravitation; Matter (physics); Neutron; Neutron star; Physics; Relativity; Star; Stellar evolution; Supernova
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