Universe  ID: 10143

Millisecond Pulsar with Gravitational Waves

A pulsar is generally believed to be a rapidly rotating neutron star that emits pulses of radiation (such as x-rays and radio waves) at known regular intervals. A millisecond pulsar is one with a rotational period in the range of 1-10 milliseconds. As the pulsar picks up speed through accretion, it distorts due to subtle changes in the crust. Such slight distortion is enough to produce gravitational waves. Material flowing onto the pulsar surface from its companion star tends to quicken the spin, but the loss of energy to gravitational waves tends to slow the spin. This competition between forces may reach an equilibrium, setting a natural speed limit for millisecond pulsars beyond which they cannot spin faster.


Dana Berry (Skyworks Digital): Lead Animator
Michael McClare (HTSI): Writer
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Astrophysics Animations

Goddard TV Tape:

SVS >> Neutron Star
SVS >> Astrophysics
SVS >> Gravitational Waves
SVS >> Pulsar
NASA Science >> Universe