(WATCH) Nasa Finds Youngest, Brightest Millisecond Pulsar

First Posted: 04/11/11 12:46 Updated: 04/11/11 13:03

Wondered where you'd left that millisecond pulsar of yours? Don't fret, Nasa's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has found it and nine other equally impressive pulsars.

The "surprisingly powerful" NGC6624 millisecond pulsar has put scientists into a spin, as it challenges existing theories about how these objects form. Nine new gamma-ray pulsars were found by another team looking at the Fermi data.

Scientists are excited about it because this one appears to have been born only millions of years ago, while similar pulsars are usually a billion years or more old.

Paulo Freire, the study's lead author at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, said: "It's amazing that all of the gamma rays we see from this cluster are coming from a single object. It must have formed recently based on how rapidly it's emitting energy. It's a bit like finding a screaming baby in a quiet retirement home."

Nasa describes a pulsar as a type of neutron star that emits electromagnetic energy at periodic intervals and the closest thing to a black hole that can be observed.

A teaspoonful full of neutron star weighs as much as Mount Everest, crushing half a million times more mass than Earth into a sphere no larger than a city.

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Filed by Melanie Hick  |