This video captures some insane neutron star blasting action

Here you can see an extremely rare video that shows a neutron star in the process of doing exactly what these super-violent pulsars do best: shoot a jet of particles out at an extremely high speed.

A release from NASA's Chandra Observatory explains:

This movie . . . shows a fast moving jet of particles produced by a rapidly rotating neutron star , and may provide new insight into the nature of some of the densest matter in the universe.

The star of this movie is the Vela pulsar, a neutron star that was formed when a massive star collapsed. The Vela pulsar is about 1,000 light years from Earth, spans about 12 miles in diameter, and makes over 11 complete rotations every second, faster than a helicopter rotor. As the pulsar whips around, it spews out a jet of charged particles that race out along the pulsar's rotation axis at about 70% of the speed of light.

The Chandra data shown in the movie, containing 8 images obtained between June and September 2010, suggest that the pulsar may be slowly wobbling, or precessing, as it spins.


In the video above, astronomer Phil Plait has annotated the footage to highlight the wobbling process. Read more of Plait's post about the video on Bad Astronomy.

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