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Chameleon star baffles astronomers

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A pulsar with glowing cones of radiation stemming from its magnetic poles. New observations reported in Science re-open an old debate about how these spinning stars work. (Credit: European Space Agency/ATG medialab)

Jan. 24, 2013 — Pulsars — tiny spinning stars, heavier than the sun and smaller than a city — have puzzled scientists since they were discovered in 1967.

Now, new observations by an international team, including University of Vermont astrophysicist Joanna Rankin, make these bizarre stars even more puzzling.

The scientists identified a pulsar that is able to dramatically change the way in which it shines. In just a few seconds, the star can quiet its radio waves while at the same...

Chameleon pulsar dramatically changes the way it shines

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This illustration shows a pulsar with glowing cones of radiation stemming from its magnetic poles – a state referred to as 'radio-bright' mode. Pulsars were discovered in 1967 as flickering sources of radio waves and soon after interpreted as rapidly rotating and strongly magnetised neutron stars. There is a general agreement about the origin of the radio emission from pulsars: it is caused by highly energetic electrons, positrons and ions moving along the field lines of the...

Neon lights up exploding stars

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Artistic view of a nova explosion depicting the binary stellar system. (Credit: David A Hardy and STFC)

Jan. 15, 2013 — An international team of nuclear astrophysicists has shed new light on the explosive stellar events known as novae.

These dramatic explosions are driven by nuclear processes and make previously unseen stars visible for a short time. The team of scientists measured the nuclear structure of the radioactive neon produced through this process...

Star Wars: What would hyperspace travel really look like?

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What University of Leicester physics students suggest hyperspace travel would really look like. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of Leicester)

Jan. 14, 2013 — The sight of the Millennium Falcon making the "jump to lightspeed" is one of the most iconic images from the Star Wars trilogy. But University of Leicester students have calculated that -- in reality -- Han, Luke and Leia would not see the light from stars stretching past the ship as we are shown in the...

Our galaxy's 'geysers' are towers of power

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This shows the “geysers” (in blue) shooting out of the Milky Way. (Credit: Optical image – A. Mellinger, U.Central Michigan; radio image – E. Carretti, CSIRO; radio data – S-PASS team; composition – E. Bresser, CSIRO)

Jan. 2, 2013 — "Monster" outflows of charged particles from the centre of our Galaxy, stretching more than halfway across the sky, have been detected and mapped with CSIRO's 64-m Parkes radio telescope. Corresponding...