Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Spinning Neutron Stars or Pulsars

Jocelyn Bell was a research student in radio astronomy at Cambridge. As a part of her research work she was monitoring a new radio telescope. She was looking for the signs of interplanetary scintillation and quasars by scanning the sky with the radio telescope she was monitoring. In summer of 1967, when her research was going well, she observed some unexplained signal kept repeating itself in all her charts. At a prior stage Bell and her advisor, Tony Hewish, thought that this signal is because of some radio interference. But soon they realized that the signal was coming, somewhere from outer space.
On further investigation, they found something very remarkable in the signal. They found that the signal pulsated at regular intervals, 3 and 2/3 of a second part. In 1967, no one had an answer to such strange signal and people begun to suspect that it was a transmission from an alien civilization. They begun referring the source of the signal as LGM, standing for “little green men”.
Jocelyn Bell at the Cambridge Radio Telescope 

Further researches gave the answer to this strange signal. Finally, it was observed that the LGM had nothing to do with an alien civilization and it was rather coming from the rapidly spinning neutron stars, which were given the name pulsars.

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