Glossary term: Pulsar

Description: A pulsar is a rapidly rotating neutron star whose intense magnetic fields produce two intense beams of radiation in opposite directions. This radiation can be detected as a brief pulse by radio telescopes as it sweeps past our line of sight. Pulsars are about 10–20 kilometers across with a typical mass of about one and a half times that of our Sun. They spin about once to several hundred times a second and can act as very precise celestial clocks. Some pulsars have been detected as gamma ray or X-ray sources. Over 3000 have been detected in our Galaxy. In addition, around 30 of them have also been detected outside the Milky Way in the Magellanic Clouds. Pulsars are useful as probes of the interstellar medium, as a test of general relativity, and potentially useful for detecting gravitational waves from black hole mergers.

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Term and definition status: This term and its definition have been approved by a research astronomer and a teacher

The OAE Multilingual Glossary is a project of the IAU Office of Astronomy for Education (OAE) in collaboration with the IAU Office of Astronomy Outreach (OAO). The terms and definitions were chosen, written and reviewed by a collective effort from the OAE, the OAE Centers and Nodes, the OAE National Astronomy Education Coordinators (NAECs) and other volunteers. You can find a full list of credits here. All glossary terms and their definitions are released under a Creative Commons CC BY-4.0 license and should be credited to "IAU OAE".