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30th of December 2014
2014 Science Highlights
Evidence of an asteroid encountering a pulsar
Brook et al. (2014) present the results of long-term monitoring of PSR J0738-4042 with the Parkes telescope. They found that its pulse shape changed multiple times between 1988 and 2012. The torque, inferred via the derivative of the rotational period, changes abruptly from 2005 September. This change is accompanied by an emergent radio component that drifts with respect to the rest of the pulse. No known intrinsic pulsar processes can explain these timing and radio emission signatures. The data lead them to postulate that we are witnessing an asteroid falling into the magnetosphere of the pulsar. - Paul Brook is a student at Oxford University in the UK, and a co-supervised student at CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science (CASS).

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