pul·​sar | \ ˈpəl-ˌsär How to pronounce pulsar (audio) \

Definition of pulsar

: a celestial source of pulsating electromagnetic radiation (such as radio waves) characterized by a short relatively constant interval (such as .033 second) between pulses that is held to be a rotating neutron star

Examples of pulsar in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Joanna Rankin is professor emerita of astronomy and physics at the University of Vermont and a pulsar expert who has used the Arecibo Observatory since 1969. Mary Fillmore, Wired, "The Arecibo Observatory Is More Than Just a Telescope," 3 Dec. 2020 This research adds to a litany of scientific accomplishments at the observatory, including its assistance in discovering the first binary pulsar in 1974 (which led to the 1993 Nobel Prize in physics). Fernando Alfonso Iii, CNN, "The economic loss of Puerto Rico's Arecibo Observatory is already being felt. It's also very personal," 6 Dec. 2020 Among its most notable accomplishments is the first detection of a binary pulsar in 1974, per NPR. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, "Massive Arecibo Telescope Collapses in Puerto Rico," 3 Dec. 2020 Further investigation revealed that the pulsar was orbited by three planets — the first planets ever discovered orbiting a star other than the sun. Dennis Overbye, New York Times, "Arecibo Observatory, a Great Eye on the Cosmos, Is Going Dark," 19 Nov. 2020 More pulsar timing data will be needed before the scientists can tell if their signal has this crucial hallmark. Quanta Magazine, "Some Physicists See Signs of Cosmic Strings From the Big Bang," 29 Sep. 2020 To potentially help extraterrestrials locate Earth, a pulsar map was first sent into space in 1972 attached to Pioneer 10. National Geographic, "Explore the galactic map that could guide aliens to Earth," 10 Sep. 2020 In 1994, astronomers studying a pulsar with Arecibo found the first evidence of a planet orbiting another star. Daniel Oberhaus, Wired, "The Iconic Arecibo Telescope Goes Quiet After Major Damage," 12 Aug. 2020 The pulsar in question, SAX J1808.4-3658, spins incredibly quickly, around 401 rotations every second, and is found 11,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Sagittarius. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, "Astronomers Just Watched a Dead Star Eat Its Neighbor, Which Is Pretty Sick," 5 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pulsar.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of pulsar

1968, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for pulsar

puls(ating) + -ar (in quasar)

Note: The coinage was apparently made by the astronomers Jocelyn Bell Burnell (born 1943 in Northern Ireland) and Antony Hewish (born 1924 in England), who discovered the objects in November, 1967. The Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd edition, cites the following from the Daily Telegraph (March 5, 1968, p. 21): "The name Pulsar (Pulsating Star) is likely to be given to it… Dr. A. Hewish…told me yesterday: '…I am sure that today every radio telescope is looking at the Pulsars.'" The word pulsar was not used in the first formal report of the discovery (A. Hewish, S.J. Bell,, et al., "Observation of a Rapidly Pulsating Radio Source," Nature, vol. 217, February 24, 1968, pp. 709-13).

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Cite this Entry

“Pulsar.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pulsar. Accessed 28 Feb. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of pulsar

technical : a type of star that gives off a rapidly repeating series of radio waves

More from Merriam-Webster on pulsar

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Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about pulsar

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