Space-Time Warp Hides Massive Pulsar From View After It Tips Into a ‘Gravitational Well’
A warp in the fabric of space-time has caused a pulsar in a binary star system about 25,000 light-years from Earth to vanish, at least for now, according to a team of scientists who had been monitoring the star system for over five years. The scientists reportedly estimate that the pulsar would be visible again in another 160 years after it emerges from the “gravitational well” created by its mass and rotation.
Pulsars are rotating neutron stars, which are immensely dense stars created as a result of a massive star collapsing in on itself. As a pulsar rotates, it emits high-energy radiation, similar to lighthouse casting beams of light. If this beam of high-energy radiation is pointed toward the Earth, these high-energy pulses can be detected using radio telescopes.
The specimen, under observation, is part of a binary star system, named J1906, which was discovered in 2004 using the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. Researchers had been studying the pulsar, which was found to have an orbital period of four hours, to determine what kind of a companion star it orbits. That is, until the pulsar vanished unexpectedly.