Recently, a team of scientists just discovered a pulsar, also known as the remnants of a supernova, spinning at over 42,000 revolutions per minute. This makes it the second fastest spinning pulsar in the known universe, shortly behind PSR J1748-2446ad.
The Pulsar Is Located in the Sextans Constellation
The second fastest spinning pulsar has been named PSR J0952-0607, and is located between 3,200 and 5,700 light-years away in the Sextans constellation. PSR J0952-0607 contains about 1.4 times the Sun’s mass and is slowly consuming its orbiting companion, a small star with 20 times less mass than Jupiter.
These types of pulsars are often dubbed black widow or redback pulsars due to their tendency to devour their mates. Scientists attest that, in theory, pulsars could rotate up to 72,000 revolutions per minute before breaking apart.
However, PSR J0952-0607 rotates at 42,000 revolutions per minute and the fastest, PSR J1748-2446ad, only spins 43,000 revolutions per minute. Perhaps the discrepancy in theory is due to our lack of ability to accurately locate rapidly spinning pulsars. Astronomers discovered PSR J0952-0607 by following up on leads from the NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, with the help of the Low Frequency Array radio telescope or LOFAR.
Scientists Hope LOFAR Will Help Them Locate More Ultra-Fast Pulsars
Pulsars that spin the most quickly have steep radio spectrums and LOFAR can detect those spectrums more accurately than previous technology. Scientists say that it would have been nearly impossible to find PSR J0952-0607 without LOFAR and feel confident that LOFAR will help them identify more ultra-fast pulsars.
The discovery of PSR J0952-0607 has been a great victory for scientists. With the advent of new technologies, comes more interesting discoveries. Hopefully, PSR J0952-0607 will be one of many pulsars discovered with LOFAR technology, and we will continue to learn more about pulsars and their fascinating place within our universe.
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