Monday, May 21, 2012

Astrophile: The case of the disappearing pulsar - New Scientist - New Scientist

Astrophile: The case of the disappearing pulsar: The star was a spectacular find: unlike every other pulsar ever observed, this one was in a close binary orbit with another pulsar. Together, the pair provided a precise laboratory to test Einstein's theory of general relativity, and a means of detailing how pulsars behave.
But in March 2008, Pulsar B went dark...
No one snuffed out Pulsar B – it just rotated out of view...

"We can see the light from one pulsar being bent as it travels through the gravitational well of the other pulsar," she says. "It's really neat. We have proof that one of these objects is distorting spacetime."
The eclipsing pulsars also provided a test of "spin precession", the idea that the pulsars' axes should wobble around like a top as they spin.

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