Transcripts of 13737_Crab_Pulsar_Radio_Bursts_1080

[Music throughout] NASA’s NICER X-ray telescope on the International Space Station has just shown that random outbursts from pulsars pack more of a punch than previously thought. Pulsars are rapidly spinning neutron stars, the crushed cores of exploded stars. One of the best-known pulsars lies at the heart of the famous Crab Nebula, located about 6,500 light-years away. Light from the supernova that formed it reached Earth less than a thousand years ago, in the year 1054. The Crab pulsar spins 30 times a second and steadily blinks in radio, visible light, X-rays and gamma rays. But it also emits random, jumbo bursts called giant radio pulses that can be more than 10 times stronger than its regular signals. Now, thanks to NICER’s sensitivity, astronomers have shown that each giant pulse comes with an increase in X-ray brightness as well. Observing the Crab simultaneously with NICER and radio telescopes in Japan, astronomers captured data over some 3.7 million rotations. They show a nearly 4% increase in X-ray emission with each giant pulse. This means the phenomena responsible for giant radio pulses produce 10 or more times the energy previously estimated from radio and visible data alone. Astronomers think all these signals originate from particle interactions in the pulsar’s rapidly spinning magnetic field, but the details remain poorly known. Better understanding of giant pulses may help scientists figure out how pulsars like the Crab do what they do. It may also provide us with insight into a much more powerful phenomenon called Fast Radio Bursts, which are linked to spinning neutron stars in our galaxy, and others much farther away. [NASA]