Vela Pulsar

January 8, 2013
Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Univ of Toronto/M.Durant et al; Optical: DSS/Davide De Martin

(—This movie from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory shows a fast moving jet of particles produced by a rapidly rotating neutron star, and may provide new insight into the nature of some of the densest matter in the universe.

The star of this movie is the Vela pulsar, a neutron star that was formed when a massive star collapsed. The Vela pulsar is about 1,000 from Earth, spansis about 12 miles in diameter, and makes over 11 complete rotations every second, faster than a helicopter rotor. As the pulsar whips around, it spews out a jet of charged that race out along the pulsar's at about 70% of the . In this still image from the movie, the location of the pulsar and the 0.7-light-year-long jet are labeled.

The Chandra data shown in the movie, containing eight images obtained between June and September 2010, suggest that the pulsar may be slowly wobbling, or precessing, as it spins. The shape and the motion of the Vela jet look strikingly like a rotating helix, a shape that is naturally explained by precession, as shown in this animation [link to mathematica animation from Oleg K]. If the evidence for precession of the Vela pulsar is confirmed, it would be the first time that a jet from a neutron star has been found to be wobbling, or precessing, in this way.

One possible cause of precession for a spinning neutron star is that it has become slightly distorted and is no longer a perfect sphere. This distortion might be caused by the combined action of the fast rotation and "glitches", sudden increases of the pulsar's rotational speed due to the interaction of the superfluid core of the neutron star with its crust.

A paper describing these results will be published in The Astrophysical Journal on January 10, 2013.

This is the second Chandra movie of the Vela pulsar, with the original having been released in 2003. The first Vela movie contained shorter, unevenly spaced observations so that the changes in the jet were less pronounced and the authors did not argue that precession was occurring. However, based on the same data, Avinash Deshpande of Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico and the Raman Research Institute in Bangalore, India, and the late Venkatraman Radhakrishnan, argued in a 2007 paper that the Vela pulsar might be precessing.

The Earth also precesses as it spins, with a period of about 26,000 years. In the future Polaris will no longer be the "north star" and other stars will take its place. The period of the Vela precession is much shorter and is estimated to be about 120 days.

The supernova that formed the Vela pulsar exploded over 10,000 years ago. This optical image from the Anglo-Australian Observatory's UK Schmidt telescope shows the enormous apparent size of the supernova remnant formed by the explosion. The full size of the remnant is about eight degrees across, or about 16 times the angular size of the moon. The square near the center shows the Chandra image with a larger field-of-view than used for the movie, with the Vela pulsar in the middle.

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1.8 / 5 (10) Jan 08, 2013
This is a plasma focus discharge, very similar to the Crab Nebula.
2.6 / 5 (10) Jan 08, 2013
This is a plasma focus discharge, very similar to the Crab Nebula.

Plasma, blah, blah, plasma, blah, blah, and oh yeah, I almost forgot,,,, plasma.
not rated yet Jan 08, 2013
What about tbe possibility of a dark orbital companion?

Or possibly, since this is a recently formed(cosmologically speaking) object, this precessional wobble is a relict of asymmetrical forces that may have been involved at the time of formation, and perhaps this wobble will eventually resolve in uniform rotation at increased velocity(shortened period) over time?

That's what I would check first.
2 / 5 (4) Jan 09, 2013
Really cool how you can see the material flow so clearly in the video. Did you notice the flow coming from the far side of the Pulsar rings and then back around and down into it? Really cool work and very significant.
5 / 5 (1) Jan 09, 2013
Hopefully there are more than 8 images in the can.
3 / 5 (2) Jan 09, 2013
This is a plasma focus discharge, very similar to the Crab Nebula.
It isn't - no discharge occurs here. Which charge should be "discharged" there?

Regardless of whether you're trying to defend the standard model or falsify what he is saying, you don't make a rebuttle by just disagreeing with someone on top of overbearingly assuming that an effect (it doesn't have to be discharges) does not occur at a phenomenon.

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