US Navy research intern discovers rapidly spinning 'bright' neutron star

Star's cluster sits in glactic plane of Milky Way around 10,700 light-years from Earth

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An illustration of a rapidly spinning neutron star or pulsar (inset) a VLITE 340 MHz image of GLIMPSE-C01A from February 27, 2021. — Nasa/National Radio Astronomy Observatory/NRL/Texas Tech
An illustration of a rapidly spinning neutron star or pulsar (inset) a VLITE 340 MHz image of GLIMPSE-C01A from February 27, 2021. — Nasa/National Radio Astronomy Observatory/NRL/Texas Tech

A US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) Remote Sensing Division intern Amaris McCarver and a team of astronomers have discovered a rapidly spinning neutron star that sweeps beams of radiation across the universe like a cosmic lighthouse.

The location of the rapidly spinning neutron star or “pulsar” is within the dense star cluster Glimpse-C01. This star cluster sits in the galactic plane of the Milky Way around 10,700 light-years from Earth, reported Space.

Moreover, this millisecond pulsar is the first of its kind found in the Glimpse-C01 star cluster and it spins hundreds of times per second. On February 27, 2021, the pulsar designated as GLIMPSE-C01A was spotted by the very large Array (VLA). However, it remained buried in a vast amount of data until in the summer of 2023, McCarver and colleagues found it.

While investigating images from the VLA's Low-band Ionosphere and Transient Experiment (VLITE) to hunt for new pulsars in 97 star clusters, McCarver and her team found the object.

"It was exciting so early in my career to see a speculative project work out so successfully," McCarver, one of 16 interns in the Radio, Infrared, Optical Sensors Branch at NRL DC, said in a statement.