Asteroids pound a tiny star

Scientists using CSIRO’s Parkes telescope and another telescope in South Africa have found evidence that a tiny star called PSR J0738-4042 is being pounded by asteroids — large lumps of rock from space.

"One of these rocks seems to have had a mass of about a billion tons," CSIRO astronomer and member of the research team Dr. Ryan Shannon said.

PSR J0738-4042 lies 37,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Puppis.

The environment around this star is especially harsh, full of radiation and violent winds of particles.

"If a large rocky object can form here, planets could form around any star. That’s exciting," Dr. Shannon said.

The star is a special one, a ‘pulsar’ that emits a beam of radio waves.

As the star spins, its radio beam flashes over Earth again and again with the regularity of a clock.

In 2008 Dr. Shannon and a colleague predicted how an infalling asteroid would affect a pulsar. It would, they said, alter the slowing of the pulsar’s spin rate and the shape of the radio pulse that we see on Earth.

"That is exactly what we see in this case," Dr. Shannon said.

"We think the pulsar’s radio beam zaps the asteroid, vaporizing it. But the vaporized particles are electrically charged and they slightly alter the process that creates the pulsar’s beam."

Asteroids around a pulsar could be created by the exploding star that formed the pulsar itself, the scientists say.

The material blasted out from the explosion could fall back towards the forming pulsar, forming a disk of debris.

Astronomers have found a dust disk around another pulsar called J0146+61.

"This sort of dust disk could provide the ‘seeds’ that grow into larger asteroids," said Mr. Paul Brook, a PhD student co-supervised by the University of Oxford and CSIRO who led the study of PSR J0738-4042.

In 1992 two planet-sized objects were found around a pulsar called PSR 1257+12. But these were probably formed by a different mechanism, the astronomers say.

Image credit: NASA

Rocks around the clock: asteroids pound tiny star

Asteroids hit the Earth, the Moon and even, it seems, distant stars.

Scientists using CSIRO’s Parkes telescope and another telescope in South Africa have found evidence that a tiny star called PSR J0738-4042 is being pounded by asteroids — large lumps of rock from space.

"One of these rocks seems to have had a mass of about a billion tonnes," CSIRO astronomer and member of the research team Dr Ryan Shannon said.

PSR J0738-4042 lies 37,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Puppis.

The environment around this star is especially harsh, full of radiation and violent winds of particles.

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July 17 2011. As usual i went along on my brothers vacation to help take care of my nieces. This year we had gone to Traverse City Michigan. The trip there from ohio was about as good as could be expected with a 3 and 5 year old. The hotel seemed decent enough. Until we got into the room and realized the shower didn’t work and the ac was broken. So we packed all of our things back up and changed hotels. The ac in the new hotel was also broken but we were tired and frustrated so we just went to bed. That night a storm came and lightning struck our hotel as well as the hotel next door. We lost power. They burnt down! Mothers holding babies and elderly couples were running out, breaking my heart. Then next day we still had no power so we decided to go out to eat. the roads were packed because the lights didn’t work and the only restaurant that had power had a line long enough to wrap around the world. we went back to the hotel, that still had no power, and because going to the beach was out of the question with all the rain and lightning we decided to end our wonderful journey early.

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4042) When I was X I had my tonsils out over the holidays and lost a lot of weight, I was quite chubby. Then people started asking me how I did it I said I had my tonsils out and got really sick and couldn't eat for Y, which was true. That's when it began. I'm Z now and recently got quite sick again and lost about XX and its triggered me again. Why can't my stupid brain just love me the way I am. I hate feeling guilty for eating.
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by tremontaine

Seems pretty smug to claim Natasha expected the evening to turn out like this, but - modest doesn’t suit her.

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