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A pulsar's inner secrets

from American Physical Society

Pulsars are the universe's ultimate physics laboratories. Understanding them presents many questions for condensed matter physicists interested in magnetism and matter at extreme conditions, as well as nuclear physicists, planetary scientists in addition to astrophysicists. Young pulsars sometimes exhibit glitches in their spin rate. The current explanation for the glitches is that the neutron star’s crust contains a neutron superfluid, and when vortices in the superfluid break free from the nuclear lattice and transfer angular momentum to the crust, the pulsar is seen to rotate faster. But a new paper in Physical Review Letters researchers show by that combining the most recent glitch data and a model of the superfluid that takes into account relativistic effects, the amount of superfluid in the crust cannot explain the changes in angular momentum required to account for the glitches. The implication is that the additional contributions to the moment of inertia must be coming from somewhere, most likely the superfluid in the core. more

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