GRAPEVINE, Texas — Two weird pulsars serve as extremely powerful and accurate cosmic clocks — some of the time. Pulsars are extremely dense neutron stars that form when massive stars collapse. They are known for releasing rapid, even pulses of radiation as they spin. But these two newly discovered Milky Way pulsars do something stranger: They suddenly begin firing off radio waves consistently, only to abruptly “turn back off” again and disappear from radio telescopes’ view. In this “cosmic vanishing act,” one of these pulsars appears “on” for only 30 percent of the time, while the other dips as low as 0.8 percent, scientists said in a new study describing the findings.  The strange sparklers can help illuminate the processes that cause pulsars to emit light, and hint… Next »
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