October 19, 2005
PSR 0540-69 is a neutron star, or pulsar, that is rotating very rapidly, making a complete rotation every one-twentieth of a second. It is similar in many ways to the famous Crab Nebula pulsar. Both objects are spinning rapidly, are about 1,000 years old and are surrounded by a large cloud of gas and high-energy particles. The surrounding cloud in both cases is powered by the conversion of rotational energy of the neutron star into high energy particles through the combined action of rapid rotation and a strong magnetic field. PSR 0540-69 is 160,000 light years away in the Large Magellanic Cloud, one the Milky Way's small satellite galaxies.
Topics: Environment, Pulsars, Star types, Radio astronomy, PSR B1509-58, Millisecond pulsar, Neutron star, Crab Nebula, Taurus constellation, Nebula, Star, Galaxy