Fig11_16 Pulsar Xray

Fig11_16 Pulsar Xray

Fig. 11.16 . The outer atmosphere of an ordinary star, detected in optically visible light, spills onto its companion, an invisible neutron star. The flow of gas is diverted by the powerful magnetic fields of the neutron star, which channels the in-falling material onto the magnetic polar regions. The impact of the gas on the star creates a pair of x-ray hotspots aligned along the magnetic axis at each magnetic cap. Because the magnetic field axis can be inclined to the neutron starís rotation axis, the x-ray radiation from the hot spots can sweep across the sky once per rotation, which is observed as periodic x-rays if one of the hot spots intersects the observerís line of sight.

Copyright 2010, Professor Kenneth R. Lang, Tufts University