Research NewsAstronomy

A Neutron Star That Got Revved Up

Science  22 May 1998:
Vol. 280, Issue 5367, pp. 1193-1194
DOI: 10.1126/science.280.5367.1193b

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Astronomers have discovered a "missing link" that could explain the formation of millisecond radio pulsars, neutron stars that spin hundreds of times a second and give off a radio blip with each rotation. Millisecond pulsars are thought to acquire their high revs when material torn from a companion star spirals in and applies a twist. New observations made by NASA's Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer satellite seem to show just that: a neutron star that has spun up like a top and is spewing out x-rays as infalling material spirals down onto its surface.