After almost ten years, the team of astronomers at NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory have released a second video featuring the Vela pulsar – a neutron star that was formed when a massive star collapsed – complete with its fast swirling jet of matter.
The Vela pulsar is about 1,000 light-years from Earth, about 12 miles in diameter, and makes a complete rotation in 89 milliseconds, faster than a helicopter rotor. Typically a pulsar is defined as a rapidly rotating neutron star that emits a beam of electromagnetic radiation. In the case of Vela, a jet of charged particles that race along the pulsar’s rotation axis 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.
Observational readings of Vela have been described in a paper published in The Astrophysical Journal.