A Pulsar Just Got Swallowed By A Warp In Space-Time

A star has vanished from the telescopes of the radio astronomers due to the space-time warp it produces as it orbits. The vanishing star is part of a binary star system known as J1906. It's actually a pulsar, which means it's a rapidly spinning neutron star, the outcome of a massive star collapsing in on itself. 

Scientists have been observing the young pulsar for five years to conclude what type of companion star was revolving around it. That is, until lately, when the pulsar disappeared. As a pulsar revolves, it releases a beam of electromagnetic radiation, kind of like light coming from a lighthouse. 

Researchers use radio telescopes that detect the pulses originating from the pulsar. But as researchers observed J1906, the pulsar started to slip off the radar. It appears that as the pulsar revolves around its companion star, the mass of the companion star makes it drop deep into a dip in space-time fabric, so that its radio waves cannot touch Earth.

The theory is called geodetic precession, which, according to researchers at NASA, uses Einstein’s theory of relativity to comprehend how massive things like the Earth bend the space around them, manipulating the local space-time fabric.

The video above shows the sinkhole in space formed by the pulsar as it circles the second star. As the warp upsurges, the pulsar's axis changes (illustrated by the arrows), so its radio pulses no longer reach the Earth's radio telescopes. But this pulsar won’t be out of vision for ever. Chief researcher Joeri van Leeuwen from the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy projects that the star will come back into sight in less than 160 years. The group’s findings were published in the Astrophysical Journal in conjunction with the American Astronomical Society’s 225th conference.