- Astronomy. one of several hundred known celestial objects, generally believed to be rapidly rotating neutron stars, that emit pulses of radiation, especially radio waves, with a high degree of regularity.
Origin of pulsar
1965–70; puls(ating st)ar, on the model of quasar
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for pulsar
The first clue is the behavior of a pulsar—a tiny but massive object that rapidly rotates, sending flashes of light toward Earth.Space’s Mysterious Earth-Sized White Diamond
Matthew R. Francis
June 29, 2014
- any of a number of very small extremely dense objects first observed in 1967, which rotate very rapidly and emit very regular pulses of polarized radiation, esp radio waves. They are thought to be neutron stars formed following supernova explosions
C20: from puls (ating st) ar, on the model of quasar
Word Origin and History for pulsar
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
- A rapidly spinning neutron star that emits radiation, usually radio waves, in narrow beams focused by the star's powerful magnetic field and streaming outward from its magnetic poles. Because the pulsar's magnetic poles do not align with the poles of its rotational axis, the beams of radiation sweep around like the beacon of a lighthouse and are thus observed on Earth as short, regular pulses, with periods anywhere between 1 millisecond and 4 seconds.
A rapidly rotating neutron star. The radiation from such a star appears to come in a series of regular pulses (one per revolution), which explains the name.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.