The Milky Ways fastest observed pulsar is speeding out of the galaxy at more than 670 miles a second, propelled largely by a kick it received at its birth 2.5 million years ago.
Using the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), 10 radio telescopes spanning 5,000 miles from Hawaii to the U.S. Virgin Islands, James Cordes, professor of astronomy at Cornell University, his former student Shami Chatterjee, now of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and colleagues studied the pulsar (a fast-spinning neutron star) B1508+55, about 7,700 light years from Earth. With the ultra-sharp radio vision of the continentwide VLBA, they precisely measured both the distance and the speed of the pulsar.
Professor of astronomy Jim Cordes stands beside an image of a galaxy similar to the Milky Way in Cornells Space Sciences Building. Copyright © Cornell University
The team then plotted the stars motion backward to a birthplace among groups of giant stars in the constellation Cygnus, which contains stars so massive they inevitably explode as supernovae.
Blaine Friedlander | EurekAlert!
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