Chameleon Pulsars: Scientists puzzled by new findings revealing the unexplained exotic behavior of “Chameleon Pulsars”
I thought this was just so amazing. A little deep in thought but astonishing.
Image: A pulsar with glowing cones of radiation stemming from its magnetic poles — a state referred to as “radio-bright” mode. Credit: ESA/ATG medialab.
“A chameleon pulsars that is able, without warning, to dramatically change the way in which it shines” has been identified by an international team of astronomers.
Using a satellite X-ray telescope combined with terrestrial radio telescopes the pulsar was found to flip on a roughly half-hour timescale between two extreme states; one dominated by X-ray pulses, the other by a highly-organised pattern of radio pulses.
The research was led by Professor Wim Hermsen from The Netherlands Institute for Space Research and the University of Amsterdam and will appear in the journal Science on the 25th January 2013.
Researchers from Jodrell Bank Observatory, as well as institutions around the world, used simultaneous observations with the X-ray satellite XMM-Newton and two radio telescopes; the LOw Frequency Array (LOFAR) in the Netherlands and the Giant Meter Wave Telescope (GMRT) in India to reveal this so far unique behavior.”
…..”Dr Ben Stappers from The University of Manchester’s School of Physics and Astronomy said: “The behavior of this chameleon pulsars is quite startling, it’s as if it has two distinct personalities. As PSR B0943+10 is one of the few pulsars also known to emit X-rays, finding out how this higher energy radiation behaves as the radio changes could provide new insight into the nature of the emission process.”….
More information: Synchronous X-ray and Radio Mode Switches: a Rapid Transformation of the Chameleon Pulsar Magnetosphere will be published in Science on Thursday 24 January. abstract here –> Synchronous X-ray and Radio Mode Switches
The next step for the researchers is to look at other objects which have similar behavior to investigate what happens to the X-ray emission. Later this year there will be another round of simultaneous X-ray and radio observations of a second pulsar. These observations will include the Lovell telescope at Jodrell Bank Observatory.