White Dwarf Pulsar

  • Astronomers have located an elusive white dwarf pulsar.
  • This is the first of its kind to be discovered in the universe. It is housed in an exotic binary star system 380 light years away from Earth.
  • Researchers identified the star AR Scorpii (AR Sco) as the first white dwarf version of a pulsar.
  • Fresh data shows that AR Sco’s light is highly polarised, showing that the magnetic field controls the emission of the entire system.
  • This is a dead-ringer for similar behaviour seen from the more traditional neutron star pulsars.
  • The white dwarf pulsar has eluded astronomers for over five decades.
  • AR Sco contains a rapidly spinning, burnt-out stellar remnant called a white dwarf, which lashes its neighbour- a red dwarf.
  • It does so through powerful beams of electrical particles and radiation, causing the entire system to brighten and fade dramatically twice every few minutes.
  • The lash of energy from AR Sco is a focused ‘beam’, emitting concentrated radiation in a single direction much like a particle accelerator- something which is totally unique in the known universe.
  • AR Sco lies in the constellation Scorpius, 380 light years from Earth, a close neighbour in astronomical terms.
  • The white dwarf in AR Sco is the size of Earth but 200,000 times more massive. It is in a 3.6 hour orbit with a cool star one-third the mass of the Sun, as per the study.

    What is a Pulsar?

  • They are what is known as the “lighthouses” of the universe.
  • These are rotating neutron stars that emit a focused beam of electromagnetic radiation that is only visible if you’re standing in it’s path.
  • Referred to as pulsars, these stellar relics get their name because of the way their emissions appear to be “pulsating” out into space.
  • Pulsars are types of neutron stars which are the dead relics of massive stars.
  • They are highly magnetized, and rotating at enormous speeds.
  • Astronomers detect them by the radio pulses they emit at regular intervals.

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