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The Vela Pulsar Imitates The Phantom

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Photo: NASA

The Vela pulsar is a neutron star. What's a neutron star you ask? Well, it's basically a compact star (like a white dwarf or a black hole) that results from the collapse of other gargantuan stars and is composed almost entirely of neutrons. Also this one kind of looks like the mask from Phantom of the Opera.

The Vela pulsar happens to be about 1,000 light-years away from earth and is 12 miles (19 km) in diameter. It takes the star a full 89 milliseconds to complete a rotation, all while spewing out charged particles that move at about 70 percent of the speed of light.

“We think the Vela pulsar is like a rotating garden sprinkler — except with the water blasting out at over half the speed of light,” said Martin Durant of the University of Toronto in Canada, who is the first author of the paper describing these results.

You can check out a sweet video of this phenomenon here.

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