Astronomers, including Kostas Gourgouliatos, of McGill University in Montreal, have discovered for the first time a strange and unexplained phenomenon: a very dense and rapidly rotating neutron star (pulsar), which abruptly slowed its speed, something that has never been observed in the past. ‘
The news was reported in in the magazine Nature, which said it was done with the help of an X-ray telescope from NASA.
A neutron star, which spins like a top around itself, is the closest thing to a black hole that can be directly observed by the scientists. It is the remnant of the explosion (super nova) of a former massive star, which burned its nuclear fuel and collapsed under its own weight. Those stars, the so-called “pulsar”, can rotate up to 43,000 times per minute and have powerful magnetic fields three billion times larger than that of the Earth.
Gourgouliatos was born in 1982 in Patras, where he studied Physics at the University. He did postgraduate and doctoral studies in the University of Cambridge (Institute of Astronomy) in Britain. Today he is a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Physics at McGill. He is a member of the Hellenic Astronomical Society and a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society of Britain.
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