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Pulsars: fluctuating speed of rotation?

  1. Jan 19, 2012 #1
    Please excuse the lay question; I'm not an astrophysicist nor do I study it accademically, but it interests me is all.

    I have a question about pulsars that I've tried to research via google, but the results I'm getting are very heavy, accademic texts. So, I'm hoping someone here could explain in laymen's language: can the speed of a pulsar's rotation fluctuate routintely? And if so, how (starquakes? could they occur routinely??), and to what effect? Could it, say, rotate every 0.5 second for a few months, and then for another few months at another speed?

    Thanks in advance to anyone who can kindly help :)
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 19, 2012 #2


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    Pulsars are among the most precise 'clocks' in the universe, but, are not always perfect. Many 'glitches' in pulsar frequency have been observed. You correctly surmised that star quakes are the usual suspect. Pulsars are neutron stars with phenomenally rigid crusts, but, apparently are not immune to the earthly equivalent of tectonic events. Wiki has a good article here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotating_radio_transient
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2012
  4. Jan 19, 2012 #3
    Thanks so much Chronos!
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