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The Discovery of Pulsars - A Graduate Student's Story

with Prof. Jocelyn Bell Burnell

Pulsars are rotating neutron stars observed to have pulses of radiation at very regular intervals that typically range from milliseconds to seconds. They have very strong magnetic fields which funnel jets of particles out along the two magnetic poles. These accelerated particles produce very powerful beams of light. 

One way to think of a pulsar is like a lighthouse. At night, a lighthouse emits a beam of light that sweeps across the sky. Even though the light is constantly shining, you only see the beam when it is pointing directly in your direction. Partway through, the point-of-view changes so that we can see the beams of light sweeping across our line of sight – this is how a pulsar pulses.


Join groundbreaking scientist Jocelyn Bell Burnell for a presentation on her accidental discovery of pulsars, or magnetized rotating neutron stars that emit pulsing radio waves, while a student at the University of Cambridge. She will also share stories of when other researchers nearly discovered pulsars.

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