PSR Optically variable pulsars

- These stars are rapidly rotating neutron stars with strong magnetic fields, radiating in the radio, optical, and X-ray regions. Pulsars emit narrow beams of radiation and periods of the light changes coincide with rotational periods (from 0S.004 to 4s), while amplitudes of the light pulses reach 0".'8. GCVS

Only a handful of pulsars are listed within the GCVS and all are extremely faint. As optical targets, these exotic objects cannot be recommended for casual examination or study. If considered for serious study, earnest amateurs will require large aperture telescopes augmented with sensitive instruments such as CCDs.

Figure 6.3. Artist's conception of a FK Corn-type variable showing the fast orbiting nature and irregular surface brightness of these binary systems Copyright: Gerry A. Good

Observation Key

Faint stars i-vT! Small amplitudes ^ Mixed periods <2> CCD or PEP

When you consider that amateur astronomers occasionally image gamma-ray bursts only hours old, report supernovae shining at a "bright" 18™0, and exceed the "depth" of the 200 inch telescope on Mount Palomar using a 16 inch telescope and CCD, I hesitate to absolutely suggest that the study of pulsars is out of the question. With this caveat duly presented, these objects can certainly be examined through the efforts of others. After all, as in real life, we can't hunt whales or travel to the Moon, but we can read about it.

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