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Scientists discover a superbubble

Astronomers using the Robert C Byrd Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia have discovered a superbubble, the fastest-spinning pulsar ever observed and a magnetic field that resembles a slinky.

india Updated: Jan 19, 2006 15:22 IST

Astronomers using the Robert C Byrd Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia have discovered a superbubble, the fastest-spinning pulsar ever observed and a magnetic field that resembles a slinky.

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory announced the discoveries last week during an American Astronomical Society meeting in Washington, DC The observatory is located in Pocahontas County. The superbubble of hydrogen gas rises 10,000 light years above the Milky Way’s plane.

Astronomer Jay Lockman said it is not unusual for hydrogen gas to be driven outward from the Milky Way’s plane. But he said whatever drove the superbubble out must have been unusually violent. “Finding this superbubble practically in our back yard is quite exciting, because these superbubbles are very important factors in how galaxies evolve,” Lockman said.

The pulsar was found in a globular cluster of stars called Terzan 5 in the constellation Sagittarius, about 28,000 light years from Earth. It spins 716 times per second, said Jason Hessels, a graduate student at McGill University in Montreal and a member of the research team that discovered the fast-spinning ‘millisecond’ pulsar. At that speed, the pulsar could not be more than 20 miles in diameter, Hessels and his colleagues contend.

First Published: Jan 19, 2006 15:22 IST