Spin Cycle

Listen 6:11
This image of the Crab Pulsar was taken with CHIMERA, an instrument at the Palomar Observatory, which is operated by the California Institute of Technology. (NASA)

This image of the Crab Pulsar was taken with CHIMERA, an instrument at the Palomar Observatory, which is operated by the California Institute of Technology. (NASA)

A Netherlands astronomy team discovered a star spinning 42,000 times every minute! Our sun spins once every 30 days or so. Rotating neutron stars are called pulsars because they look like pulsing energy sources. The spin is caused by pulling material off a companion star. The speed increases as they divert more and more materials.

Last week we learned that features on Pluto seen during the new Horizons flyby will be named after figures in underworld mythologies. Sleipnir Fossa, a long, narrow depression, is named after the 8-legged horse that carried the Norse god Odin to the underworld. Other solar system naming schemes: Greek mythology, English literature, William Shakespeare’s plays, Hawaiian mythology, even a Hollywood actress for Eris’ moon Dysnomia: discoverer Michael Brown wanted to name the moon Xena, after the TV warrior princess.

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