The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington

UTA Planetarium

UTA Planetarium

Ask the Astronomer Q&A

Tag: "pulsar"

  • What makes a neutron star a pulsar? Are all neutron stars pulsars? If not,when does a neutron star become a pulsar? Is every pulsar part of a binary star system?
  • Thanks for your question! Pulsars and neutron stars are the same thing. Pulsars are named for the short, precisely timed radio bursts that we detect from fast spinning neutron stars. Not all neutron stars are called pulsars because not all neutron stars send this signal in a direction that astronomers can detect them. Not all pulsars and neutron stars are part of binary systems. Neutron stars form when a large star (more than 10 times the mass of the Sun) dies. The star explodes as a supernova and the remaining core of the star collapses to an object that is just a few miles wide. The object is so compressed that the electrons get pushed into the nucleus of an atom where they combine with the protons inside the nucleus, creating neutrons (hence the name neutron star).

    (Tags:  neutron star  pulsar  star)