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 For instance, models have predicted strong magnetic fields from the pulsar in the Crab nebula can boost particles to 0.1 PeV, but to reach 1 PeV, Cao says, all the parameters need to be pushed to the extreme. Ling Xin, Science | AAAS, 18 May 2021 For reasons that remain unexplained, some pulsars occasionally spew out GRPs that are hundreds to thousands of times brighter than regular pulsar radio signals. Paul Douglas, Star Tribune, 15 Apr. 2021 Scientists concluded that the pulsar must be losing energy in the form of gravitational waves—a discovery that won Taylor and Hulse the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physics. Clara Moskowitz, Scientific American, 11 Feb. 2016 For years, scientists have been baffled by extremely loud radio signals, known as giant radio pulses (GRPs), that can be traced to a special type of dead star known as a pulsar. Paul Douglas, Star Tribune, 15 Apr. 2021 In 1992, Alexander Wolszczan and Dale Frail, using the Arecibo Observatory’s radio telescope, discovered the first planets outside of our solar system orbiting a pulsar in the Virgo system. Meghan Herbst, Wired, 4 Mar. 2021 The signal also provided researchers with the first empirical test of general relativity beyond regions—including the space around the binary pulsar—where there is comparatively little spacetime warping. Davide Castelvecchi, Scientific American, 24 Mar. 2016 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, 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, 6 Dec. 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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Last Updated

27 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Pulsar.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pulsar. Accessed 18 Jun. 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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pulsar

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about pulsar


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