The American Astronomical Society is presenting the most surprising discoveries made not only by NASA, but also by individual groups of passionate scientists from all over the world. An international team, including the University of British Colombia and the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (Astron) reported on the 5th of January 2015 the possibility that a pulsar star can disappear because of high gravitational issues in time and space. Gravitational disturbance causes the absolute vanishing of a star. However, such a disappeared star will return in 160 years, astronomers say.
J1906 is a formation of two stars, one pulsar and one small one, that orbit each other. Their distance from Earth is 25 000 light years, and they are 9300 000 miles away from one another. Gravity, the main character of the story, is the one who causes radio waves every 144 milliseconds in between the two stars, waves that have a certain intensity and direction. This gravity causes a space time warp and the more the pulsar spins around its axis, the more gravity levels reach sky high. And then everything changes : the pulsar disappears and the beams don’t hit Earth anymore. Its weight and gravitational disturbance caused the absolute vanishing of the star. The epiphany revealed itself to the scientists after a study that took 5 years, with night after night observations and tracking waves. However, they wait around the corner: according to their calculations, the pulsar is going to be seen again in about 160 years from now.
In comparison with our sun, the stars of J1906 are a hundred times bigger, as far as mass is concerned, but they are smaller in diameter. They are also very much closer together and the Earth and the Sun, so the gravity between them must also be very different and considerably stronger.
The experiment is very important also because through it, the group of scientists succeeded in weighing a star while it floats freely into the Universe. Furthermore, they observed how the axis of a pulsar can change; in the given case, the axis modified its angle with 2.2 degrees in one year time. It has been more than 10 years since the J1906 pulsar was discovered, time during which it has been studied by 5 large telescopes from different parts of the world: the Arecibo Telescope(USA), the Green Bank Telescope (USA), Nançay Telescope (France), the Lovell Telescope (UK) and the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope (The Netherlands).
For those who will be around here in the year 2170, the 2015 science lovers cordially salute the beam of J1906 and wish it an adventurous time in the new space time warp.
Image Source: Max Planck Institut Fur Radioastronomie