Found Poetry: The Crab Nebula and the Sounds of Pulsars
MinnPost has a nifty feature where they pick a “website of the day” and highlight that site on their main page. Today’s site of the day is good stuff for the astronomy enthusiast – a link to NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day project. Today’s picture is of the Crab Nebula, which was formed in a supernova – a supernova so spectacular it was noted and recorded here on Earth – in 1054 AD! At the center of the nebula is a neutron star, a super-dense star. This one is actually a pulsar – it’s highly magentized, so it spins and throws off radiation. Now here’s the cool part: we can listen to pulsars. This radiation blip is like clockwork, so you can hear each rotation tick off as it turns. (You can hear some of them anyway; the pulsar at the center of the Crab Nebula rotates 30 times a second, so it sounds more like a constant whir.) It may not be the prettiest sound in the world, but just think about it: you’re listening to a star!