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What is a pulsar?

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Asked by Jennifer Friday May 16th 2008 in Trivia
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When stars "die," or run out of fuel to burn, their enormous mass causes them to collapse in on themselves. If they are extremely large stars, they might become black holes. But not all stars contain enough mass.

A neutron star forms after a star becomes a supernova, in an explosion that blasts away the outer layers. The inner core collapses in on itself so tightly that electrons and protons are stripped away--only neutrons remain. Neutron stars are so dense that a teaspoonful of neutron star would weigh billions of tons on earth.

A great amount of energy is required to make a neutron star, and this energy often sends the star into a rapid spin. Immense amounts of radiation are emitted at the north and south magnetic poles of the star. The star emits this energy constantly, but because it's spinning, from Earth it looks like the star is blinking or pulsing on and off. Hence the name, "pulsars."

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