Pulsars are one of the more intriguing objects in the sky, radiating regular flashes of electromagnetic energy, which can (sometimes) be seen from Earth. Flashing with astonishing regularity, these objects are stellar corpses of massive stars that met their demise in supernovae. When beams of energy are aligned just right, they can be seen from Earth as regular pulses of light.

Occasionally, pulsars produce unpredictable giant radio pulses (GRPs) — short-lived bursts of energy far more powerful than the flashes coming from the stellar corpse itself.

New observations show X-ray emissions from the pulsar at the heart of the Crab Nebula are about four percent higher than expected. This means the total amount of energy emitted by this object (and others like it) is tens to hundreds of times greater than previously believed.

It’s time to split

A “guest star” pictured next to a crescent Moon, by an unknown Anasazi skygazer. A similar alignment would have been seen from the area on July 5, 1054, suggesting a date for the stony record.
Credit: hounddiggity / Flickr