Strangely slow

2019-03-07 04:04:01

ASTRONOMERS have found a pulsar whose beat is so slow that, in theory, it shouldn’t be generating a radio signal at all. Radio pulsars are spinning neutron stars that emit radio beams from areas near their magnetic poles, so astronomers see a pulse every time the beam sweeps across the Earth. But the 8.5-second period of pulsar J2144-3933 is too slow to generate a strong enough electric field to produce radio waves, according to Matthew Young of the University of Western Australia in Nedlands ( Nature, vol 400, p 848). Instead,