'Glitches' of rapidly spinning neutron star pulsars can be a source of gravitational waves

By Jurassic JennJun 22, 2024 09:08 AMScience
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'Glitches' of rapidly spinning neutron star pulsars can be a source of gravitational waves
'Glitches' of rapidly spinning neutron star pulsars can be a source of gravitational waves. Source: www.space.com

Neutron stars, the dense and exotic remnants of massive stars, have always captivated scientists due to their extreme nature. With masses up to two times that of the sun packed into a width of only 12 miles, the density of their matter is mind-boggling. These celestial objects, known as pulsars when they emit radiation from their poles, can spin as rapidly as 700 times a second. However, occasionally they experience "glitches," mysterious events that cause them to suddenly spin faster.

Recently, a study published in the journal Astroparticle Physics by Brynmor Haskell and Ian Jones shed light on a potential connection between these glitches and the emission of gravitational waves. According to the researchers, glitches in neutron stars might be associated with the presence of vortices in their superfluid components. As different phases of the glitch occur, it is theorized that they emit gravitational waves at various frequencies.

Haskell and Jones propose that during the glitch itself, there could be rapid and short bursts of gravitational waves. Furthermore, as the pulsar relaxes back to its original rotation rate after the glitch, longer-lasting gravitational waves could be emitted. On a larger scale, persistent gravitational wave signals may arise from long-term changes within the interior and surface of glitching pulsars.

Understanding the dynamics within neutron stars is crucial, and observing gravitational waves during these glitch events could provide valuable insights. By tuning in to the gravitational wave music played by pulsars, scientists may unlock the mysteries of these extraordinary astronomical objects.

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