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Friday, September 14, 2012
I believe in God....do you mean it?
The actual image is of a nebula surrounding a small pulsar – a stellar remnant, a neutron star – the crushed core of a massive star, spinning and channelling electrons along its magnetic field. Pulsars produce regular radio wave pulses as their polar regions point to us and blast emissions from accelerated electrons in our direction. Radio signals tell us where they are, space telescopes point and check them out in other wavelengths to see what they do. The pulsar doing all this is estimated at a diameter of 12 miles, with the nebula 150 light years across. The entire system is 17,000 light years from us and estimated to be 1,700 years old. The pulsar is called PSR B1509-58, but is known to its friends as B1509.