Powerful Pulsar Knocks Star's Block Off

Dr Who Fan
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Joined: 25 Feb 05
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Topic 198157

I would hate to be in this pulsar's path...

From Space.com:

Quote:

A super-dense spinning star punched a hole right through its stellar neighbor, knocking off a giant cloud of dust and ejecting it away at nearly 15 percent the speed of light, images from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory reveal.

The fast-spinning neutron star, known as a pulsar, is part of a double-star system about 7,500 light-years from Earth. Its partner star is about 30 times the size of Earth's sun and also spins quickly, generating a dusty disk around itself as material flies off. Observations from the Chandra observatory show that every so often, the pulsar pierces its partner's dust disk.

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Chandra's observations of the double-star system, which scientists call PSR B1259-63/LS 2883, captured the violent interaction in X-ray light as a section of the dust disk more than 100 times our solar system's width broke free and flew off into space.

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The massive dust clump fled the star at an average of 7 percent the speed of light, but by the time the researchers looked again, a year later, it had sped up to 15 percent.

Link to Full Article and images from the Chandra observatory