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Cornell Stargazer Speaks On Pulsars


Frank D. Drake, associate director of the Center for Radiophysics and Space Research at Cornell, present at Harvard yesterday new information on pulsars-unusual stars which derive their name from their peculiar redid pulsating.

Drake said he is convinced that pulsars, some of which pulsate more than 50 times a second, are rotating neutron stars. Scientists have predicted the existence of neutron stars-a teaspoonful of which weighs more than a billion tons-as the remnants of the explosions of giant stars. But until the accidental discovery of pulsars in 1967, no neutron stars had been observed.

Most scientists believe that pulsars emit their pulses by spinning rapidly. The time between pulses has been believed to be constant, but Drake has found that it is increasing very slightly. The energy the pulsar loses in rotation is given off as radiation; the energy loss of a pulsar is 100,000 times the energy loss of the sun.

Was There A Big Bang?

With this high energy output, "spinning neutron stars are capable of producing all the cosmic rays that we sec," Drake said. In support of the "big bang" theory of the universe, astronomers had used the argument that nothingin our galaxy could produce the high energy cosmic rays that scientists have observed. But according to Drake, the ability of pulsars within our galaxy to produce high energy cosmic rays "allows the opposing steady-state theory to survive."

Drake also announced at Harvard the possible discovery of a planet rotating around one of the 45 known pulsars. The mass of this planet is calculated to be nearly equal to the mass of the earth.

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