Research NewsAstrophysics

Neutron Stars Spin Out Gravity Waves

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Science  19 Jun 1998:
Vol. 280, Issue 5371, pp. 1835
DOI: 10.1126/science.280.5371.1835a

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Mehr Antia Newborn neutron stars may be powerful beacons of gravitational waves, the ripples in the fabric of space-time predicted by Einstein's theory of gravity. Calculations reported in the 1 June Physical Review Letters suggest that just after a giant star collapses to form a neutron star, the hot, superdense matter quivers in a way that sheds large amounts of energy and angular momentum into gravitational waves. In as little as a year, the process could slow a spinning neutron star from 1000 rotations a second to a leisurely 100, which may explain why astronomers have never spotted a fast-spinning young neutron star.