ORNL team discovers new way to spin up pulsars

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Jan. 5, 2007 — A team of scientists using Oak Ridge National Laboratory supercomputers has discovered the first plausible explanation for a pulsar's spin that fits the observations made by astronomers. Anthony Mezzacappa of the Department of Energy lab's Physics Division and John Blondin of North Carolina State University explain their results in the Jan. 4 issue of the journal Nature. According to three-dimensional simulations they performed at the Leadership Computing Facility, located at ORNL, the spin of a pulsar is determined not by the spin of the original star, but by the shock wave created when the star's massive iron core collapses.


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