pul·​sar ˈpəl-ˌsär How to pronounce pulsar (audio)
: 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 The breakthrough evidence came from 15 years of documenting radio waves that emanate from the remains of exploded stars, called pulsars. Will Sullivan, Smithsonian Magazine, 29 June 2023 But in addition to the, well, pulsing, the key to identifying a pulsar is the timing. Jackie Appel, Popular Mechanics, 20 July 2023 In 1983 researchers calculated that a gravitational-wave background signal would vary slightly—but predictably—when seen through different pairs of pulsars, depending on each pulsar’s location in the sky, as compared with where the other pulsar appeared. Meghan Bartels, Scientific American, 28 June 2023 Each record is encased in a sleeve that maps Earth’s location with respect to 14 pulsars, which are rotating neutron stars that pulse radiation at very precise intervals. Meghan Bartels, Scientific American, 1 Aug. 2023 What's more confounding: the object that the researches detected resembles a pulsar, but spins 1,000 times slower. Eric Lagatta, USA TODAY, 25 July 2023 To detect the gravitational-wave background, researchers took advantage of the lighthouse-like nature of pulsars spread across the Milky Way. Katrina Miller, New York Times, 29 June 2023 When these pulsars ride the swell of a gravitational wave, though, the space-time ripple distorts this precision. Briley Lewis, Popular Science, 29 June 2023 Researchers use those pulses as incredibly precise cosmic clocks, pinpointing the pulsars’ locations. WIRED, 29 June 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'pulsar.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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).

First Known Use

1968, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of pulsar was in 1968

Dictionary Entries Near pulsar

Cite this Entry

“Pulsar.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pulsar. Accessed 23 Sep. 2023.

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