Scientists reveal the discovery of a triple System composed of a Pulsar and Two White Dwarfs all entirely within a space smaller than 1AU! which is the average radius of Earth's orbit around the Sun. The Pulsar is located about 4200 light-years from Earth, spinning nearly 366 times per second.
"Astronomers using the National Science Foundation's Green Bank Telescope (GBT) have discovered a unique stellar system of two white dwarf stars and a superdense neutron star, all packed within a space smaller than Earth's orbit around the Sun. The closeness of the stars, combined with their nature, has allowed the scientists to make the best measurements yet of the complex gravitational interactions in such a system.
In addition, detailed studies of this system may provide a key clue for resolving one of the principal outstanding problems of fundamental physics—the true nature of gravity.
"This triple system gives us a natural cosmic laboratory far better than anything found before for learning exactly how such three-body systems work and potentially for detecting problems with General Relativity that physicists expect to see under extreme conditions," said Scott Ransom of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO).
West Virginia University graduate student Jason Boyles (now at Western Kentucky University) originally uncovered the pulsar as part of a large-scale search for pulsars with the GBT. Pulsars are neutron stars that emit lighthouse-like beams of radio waves that rapidly sweep through space as the object spins on its axis. One of the search's discoveries was a pulsar some 4200 light-years from Earth, spinning nearly 366 times per second."
Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-01-pulsar-stellar-triple-unique-gravitational.html#jCp
Study preview: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature12917.html
Image: This is an artist’s impression of binary system pulsar PSR J0348+0432 and its white dwarf companion. In 2007 scientists discovered this binary system of a Pulsar and a White Dwarf with the Green Bank Telescope. Credit: ESO/L. Calçada http://www.eso.org/public/images/eso1319c/
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