Astronomers are befuddled by the discovery of a pulsar with a strange orbit that has never before been found. Pulsars are fast-spinning neutron stars that beam regular pulses of radio waves into space. They are born from a supernova, the explosion of a dying, massive star (but sometimes the phenomenon creates black holes instead). They were first discovered by British physicist Antony Hewish and his student Jocelyn Bell in 1967.
An Image of a Pulsar in the Crab Nebula
The new pulsar was named J1903+0327 (try saying that name 5 times fast), and is located 20,000 light-years away from Earth. It has a mass around 1.74 times that of the sun, making it heavier than most pulsars as well. It also has an unusually fast rotation of 2.15 milliseconds, or 465 revolutions per second.
The international team of astronomers who discovered the strange body believes that the pulsar may have been born in a dense region of stars known as a globular cluster. It was then probably thrown out by the star it once orbited. Another popular theory is that the pulsar may have two companion stars instead of one.