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Highlights of major physics conference in Washington, D.C.
Date:2/13/2010

ove once and for all that there is indeed a black hole at the galactic center (http://meetings.aps.org/Meeting/APR10/Event/115252).

12) FANS OF GAMMA RAY PULSARS

Most pulsars -- rotating neutron stars that emit beams of electromagnetic radiation -- were originally discovered by radio telescopes. That's because most of the 1,900 or so known pulsars in the universe emit radio waves, and very few have been found to emit more powerful beams of X-rays or gamma rays. That number has been increasing in recent months thanks to observations from the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope (formerly GLAST), and these observations are helping physicists characterize pulsars that emit in gamma rays.

Lucas Guillemot of the Max-Planck-Institut fr Radioastronomie will present a summary of pulsar observations in gamma rays with the Fermi Large Area Telescope (LAT) during its first year and a half of operation. Before Fermi was launched, fewer than ten gamma ray pulsars were known. "The great efforts of the Fermi LAT team supported by observations made at radio and X-ray telescopes led to the detection of 55 pulsars in gamma rays since June 2008, and this number will continue to increase," says Guillemot. In addition to those 55, the LAT is now detecting many unidentified sources that might point to yet unknown pulsars.

Scientists like Guillemot hope the data will help define some of the physical characteristics of these pulsars, such as how and where around the star the gamma rays are produced. The data is already showing that when pulsars emit gamma rays, they seem to do so in fan-like beams that sweep large sky fractions, suggesting that they are produced at high altitude in their magnetospheres. This differs from radio beam shapes emitted by pulsars, which tend to be cone-like and centered on the magnetic axis of the neutron star. (Talk, A3.1,

Contact: Jason Bardi
jbardi@aip.org
301-209-3091
American Institute of Physics
Source:Eurekalert

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