A pulsar is a rapidly spinning and highly magnetized neutron star, the crushed core left behind when a massive sun explodes. Most were found through their pulses at radio wavelengths, which are thought to be caused by narrow, lighthouse-like beams emanating from the star's magnetic poles. When it comes to gamma-rays, pulsars are no longer lighthouses. A new class of gamma-ray-only pulsars shows that the gamma rays must form in a broader region than the lighthouse-like radio beam. Astronomers now believe the pulsed gamma rays arise far above the neutron star.
Animation & Visual Effects: Cruz deWilde
Producer: Stefanie Mitzal
Scientists: Steven Ritz, Lynn Cominsky
Music: Chris Zabriskie
Caption: Courtesy of NASA