Neutron Stars

November 22

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. - Psalm 96:11 NKJV

Neutron stars are also called pul­sars because of the pulsating radio waves that they emit in all directions. Imagine that space is a pond and that the neutron star is a pebble that you toss into the water. The circular ripples that spread endlessly outward represent the radio waves projected into the far reaches of space from the star in the center. Scientists first detected the radio waves from pulsars in 1967 when radio telescopes picked up the intermittent bursts.

At first, astronomers believed that the radio signals might be messages from outer space and called them LGM, for “little green men.” And while scientists now know that the waves aren’t messages from space beings, they still have many questions about the nature of pul­sars. For example, what is the source of the radio waves? Are they coming from some spot on the star’s surface or from above one of the star’s magnetic poles?

Scientists call pulsars neutron stars because the astronomical bodies consist entirely of subatomic particles called neutrons. Unlike protons, which repel each other, neutrons don’t have an electrical charge, so they pack together very tightly. Consequently, a neutron star can be many times denser than our more gaseous and much larger sun. A teaspoonful of matter from a neutron star would weigh billions of tons on earth.

In addition to the radio waves, some pul­sars also emit X-rays as well as visible light. One of the most familiar pulsars is the bright star at the center of the Crab Nebula. When the Crab Nebula exploded in 1054, it left be­hind a very tightly packed neutron star sur­rounded by a cloud of gas.

The heavens and the intelligent beings of other worlds do rejoice. We are sure of that. But so far the only messages sent for us to de­cipher have been those from God through His appointed natural agents. His primary Agent, of course, is His own Son, Jesus.





Nature Quest – James & Priscilla Tucker