NASA telescope discovers youngest pulsar to date

November 4th, 2011 - 9:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Los Angeles, Nov 4 (IANS) NASA has announced the discovery of a pulsar estimated to be less than 25 million years old, the youngest ever found.

NASA said in a press release the pulsar was among a group of discovered by international scientists using the agency’s Fermi gamma-ray space telescope, reported Xinhua Friday.

Located some 27,000 light years away in the direction of the Sagittarius constellation, the youngest pulsar, named J1823-3021A, is a millisecond pulsar, a special class of pulsars with a speed of 11,000 rotations per minute.

Pulsars generally tend to be billions of years old, said Paulo Freire, the lead author of the study at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn (Germany).

“What this means is that we’re looking at the tip of the iceberg of a totally new class of short-lived pulsars,” Freire said during a conference call to announce the discoveries.

A pulsar is a type of neutron star that emits electromagnetic energy at periodic intervals. A neutron star is the closest thing to a black hole that astronomers can observe directly, crushing half a million times more mass than Earth into a sphere no larger than a city. The matter is so compressed that even a teaspoonful weighs as much as Mount Everest.

One group of pulsars combines incredible density with extreme rotation. The fastest of these so-called millisecond pulsars whirls at 43,000 revolutions per minute.

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