Miscellaneous Astronomy Topics
Miscellaneous Astronomy Topics

 

Fritz Zwicky and Walter Baade were scientists studying the universe around 1930. Fritz and Walter hypothesized that some very large stars "die" in a huge explosion that rips them apart, and that all that would remain would be a very small, dense and hot star. Fritz and Walter termed this type of star a Neutron Star, since it would be composed entirely of neutrons.

Jocelyn Bell was a graduate student doing Astronomical research in the 1960's. Jocelyn used a relatively new instrument, called a Radio Telescope, to do her research. A radio telescope is much like a regular light telescope, except that instead of forming an image using light, it forms an image using radio energy. Radio telescopes are powerful instruments that allow us to see the universe much more clearly than ever before. Jocelyn ended up discovering a new type of star which seemed to blink on and off. She called this new type of star a pulsar. A pulsar seems to blink on and off because it's intensive gravity field only allows light to escape from the poles and the star spins rapidly. It was later realized that these pulsars and neutron stars are one and the same!

The strangest and perhaps most mysterious objects in the universe are still not clearly understood. They are called Quasi-stellar-radio-sources, or QUASARS for short. Quasars are seen about 15 billion light years from Earth, making them the most distant objects ever observed. They emit the energy of thousands of galaxies! (Remember that just one galaxy is likely to contain 100-200 billion stars...so QUASARS are incredibly bright!) We really don't know what a Quasar is. Even its name is deceiving. "Quasi" means "kind of like", "Stellar" means "star". So all we really know is that a quasar is "kind of like a star". That really doesn't tell us much, does it? Remember, Science doesn't always have ALL of the answers we seek. The fundamental aim of all science is to DISCOVER THE ANSWERS. TO SEEK OUT NEW INFORMATION...TO BOLDLY GO WHERE NO MAN HAS GONE BEFORE!

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