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Pulsars are cool. Seriously.
Ransom, Scott M.
Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union, Volume 291, pp. 3-10
Publication Date:
pulsars: general, words: superlatives and colloquialisms
Abstract Copyright:
2013: International Astronomical Union
Bibliographic Code:


Ever since the first pulsar was discovered by Bell and Hewish over 40 years ago, we've known that not only are pulsars fascinating and truly exotic objects, but that we can use them as powerful tools for basic physics and astrophysics as well. Taylor and Hulse hammered these views home with their discovery and timing of the spectacular "binary pulsar" in the 1970s and 1980s. In the last two decades a host of surprises and a promise of phenomenal scientific riches in the future has come from the millisecond pulsars. As our instrumentation has become more sensitive and better suited to measuring the pulses from these objects, they've given us new tests of general relativity, fantastic probes of the interstellar medium, constraints on the physics of ultra-dense matter, new windows into binary and stellar evolution, and the promise of a direct detection of gravitational waves. These things really are cool, and there is much more we will do with them in the future.

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