June 29, 2011

Stellar Odd Couple Makes Striking Flares

Every 3.4 years, pulsar B1259–63 dives twice through the gas disk surrounding the massive blue star it orbits. With each pass, it produces gamma rays. During the most recent event, NASA’s Fermi observed that the pulsar’s gamma-ray flare was much more intense the second time it plunged through the disk. Astronomers don’t yet know why. credit: NASA

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