An Edinburgh,Scotland, working with the James Clerk

An Edinburgh,Scotland, working with the James Clerk

An important woman in the contribution of science is Jocelyn Bell Burnell. She is aBritish astronomer that discovered pulsars, which is a tiny, very dense, rapidly rotating neutronstar that appear to emit radiation in pulses.

Jocelyn was born in 1943 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. She was raised near the ArmaghObservatory, which obviously impacted her life She graduated from Glasgow University in 1965with a B.S. degree in Physics, and in 1968 she received a Ph.D.

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in radio astronomy from theUniversity of Cambridge in 1968. Jocelyn began her studies by conducting experiments ofgamma-ray astronomy at the University of Southampton. From 1974 through 1982, Jocelynworked in X-ray astronomy at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory at the University College inLondon. In 1982 she became a senior research fellow at the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh,Scotland, working with the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii and also did astrophysicalresearch in the optical and infrared parts of the electromagnetic spectrum until 1991.Her discovery came from the initial research at Cambridge, where she built a radiotelescope to track quasars, which are starlike objects that have a large red shift, emit powerfulblue light, and can often emit radio waves. Then in 1967, while using the radio telescope, therewas an unexpected discovery, which she shared among with Antony Hewish and othercolleagues.

Jocelyn noticed that there was a source of regular, intense pulses of radio waves thatemitted a burst every 1.337 seconds. At first, there was an attempted explanation that thisphenomenon might be a beacon from alien sources, so they initially named the pulsing sourceLGM or “Little Green Men”. After a few months, however, the astronomer had discovered anumber of other sources in distant space and deduced from their far away locations and othercharacteristics, that these pulses must be occurring naturally.

Then Jocelyn and her colleaguesrealized that these pulse patterns came from a special type of star that they naturally termed aHer discovery has made a huge impact in the science world. Astronomers have nowdiscovered over 400 pulsars, but only the Crab Pulsar and the Vela pulsar, can emit visiblydetectable pulses. These pulsars are distinguished from other types of celestial radio sources bytheir emissions. Instead of remaining constant over a period of years or longer , these pulsaremissions consist of brier pulses of regularity.

The pulses can last from a period of a fewmilliseconds to as long as several seconds. Pulsars are also powerful electric generators, that arecapable of accelerating charged particles to energies of a trillion volts.On account of Bell Burnell’s discovery of the pulsars , astronomers have been able tolead further investigations of pulsars. Also , they are able to have a better understanding of theBibliography:Microsoft Encarta Encyclopdia 98

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