ESAs Integral space observatory, together with NASAs Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer spacecraft, has found a fast-spinning pulsar in the process of devouring its companion.
This finding supports the theory that the fastest-spinning isolated pulsars get that fast by cannibalising a nearby star. Gas ripped from the companion fuels the pulsars acceleration. This is the sixth pulsar known in such an arrangement, and it represents a stepping stone in the evolution of slower-spinning binary pulsars into faster-spinning isolated pulsars.
"Were getting to the point where we can look at any fast-spinning, isolated pulsar and say, That guy used to have a companion," said Dr Maurizio Falanga, who led the Integral observations, at the Commissariat à lEnergie Atomique (CEA) in Saclay, France.
Chris Winkler | alfa
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