THE oRiGiN oF A pulsAR

If a neutron star's magnetic and rotational poles are not aligned, its beams of radiation will rotate, so the star winks on and off like a lighthouse.

neutron stars

A supernova leaves a massive core, whose gravity is so strong that it shreds the star's individual atoms. oppositely charged protons and electrons combine, leaving a fast spinning ball of neutrons, which typically stops collapsing at around the size of a city. The neutron star's magnetic field becomes highly powerful, channeling its radiation into two beams that emerge from the star's magnetic poles.


Geminga is one of the brightest gamma-ray sources in the sky—it emits nearly all its radiation at these high-energy wavelengths.

black holes

When a star's core is truly massive, its collapse does not stop at a neutron star. The neutrons in turn are broken up into their component quarks, and the core becomes so dense that its gravity will not even allow light to escape. The result is a stellar-mass black hole. Sealed off from the universe, black holes are among the strangest objects known to science. Their gravity affects the space around them, but they are extremely difficult to detect.

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