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Saturday, February 4, 2023

Pulsar Planets: Five ‘Spooky’ Planets Discovered Orbiting Dead Stars

The planets are orbiting a pulsar 2,300 light years away from the Earth

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Aditya Saikrishna
Aditya Saikrishna
I am 21 years old and an avid Motorsports enthusiast.

UNITED STATES: Pulsar PSR B1257+12 is situated around 2,300 light years from the Earth. The pulsar is orbited by three rocky, terrestrial planets called Phobetor, Draugr, and Poltergeist. The pulsar emits radio waves 161 times every second and was nicknamed “Lich,” an undead creature from the 1976 book, Greyhawk. Draugr was named after another undead creature in Norse mythology. 

Neutron stars forms Pulsars

The bright shine of the stars is produced by the nuclear fusion of light elements like hydrogen, which fuse to create heavier elements like helium. Nuclear fusion releases enormous amounts of energy which acts against the constant inwards pull of the massive star’s gravity. This balance of the fusion energy and the gravitational force is called “hydrostatic equilibrium.”

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Hydrostatic equilibrium is crucial in the sense that this equilibrium ensures that the star doesn’t collapse under its own gravitational force.

When a star’s hydrogen fuel runs out, the nuclear fusion process comes to a halt. As a result, the hydrostatic balance is disrupted, resulting in the star’s collapse. The star’s rapid decline triggers a tremendous final nuclear fusion, which causes the star to explode as a supernova.

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Neutron stars are the remnants of a supernova explosion when the progenitor star was not massive enough to create a black hole. These dead and collapsed stellar cores are extremely dense. Some of these neutron stars emit beams of radio waves into space in the form of pulses. Such neutron stars are called “Pulsars.” 

Another exoplanet, Planet PSR J1719-1438b, orbits a pulsar that is around 4,000 light years away from Earth. The planet completes one revolution around the pulsar in just a little over two hours. This planet is the densest planet yet discovered and is assumed to be composed of diamonds, giving it the nickname “Diamond World.”

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A globular star cluster Messier M4 lies around 5,600 lightyears from the Earth. This cluster contains around 100,000 stars, and at the center of the star cluster, a pulsar and a white dwarf orbit around a shared gravitational centre. A planet also orbits this centre. This planet was christened Methuselah, after the son of Enoch, in the Book of Genesis. This planet is a giant gas planet and around 2.5 times the mass of Jupiter. 

Pulsar planets are one of the bizarre celestial objects of the universe. These planets withstood the massive supernovae explosion. These planets have to endure the heat emanating from the dead star cores. The discovery of pulsar planets challenged ideas about planetary formation, which normally occurs when a new star is formed. 

Also Read: Spooky Sound of Earth’s Magnetic Field is a Halloween Treat

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