The Crab Pulsar and the Crab Nebula are one impressive pair as seen with the Westerbork Radio Telescope. Only 10 miles across but 500.000 times as massive as the Earth, the pulsar is a cosmic lighthouse that spins 30 times each second, sweeping around bundles of bright radio waves. In this image we see a 1-second snapshot of these peaked waves as they reach Westerbork/PuMaII after 6000 years of interstellar travel.
Radio pulsars provide unique opportunities for testing theories of gravity and probing states of matter otherwise inaccessible; as the rare end-points of binary star evolution, relativistic neutron-star binaries offer unique insights and powerful constraints on our physical understanding of the formation properties of compact objects; and in large samples pulsars allow detailed modeling of the Galactic neutron star population. For these reasons, we are involved in several large-scale pulsar surveys that aim to discover pulsars in short-period relativistic or otherwise interesting orbits.
Outreach: check out www.pulsars.nl for pulsar news, movies, and sounds.
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