Possible Dates of Birth of Pulsars from Ancient Chinese Records

Abstract

THE pulsar NP 0532 has been identified with the central star of the Crab Nebula1, the famous remnant of the “Chinese” supernova of 1054. There is thus a prima facie case for a systematic search through ancient Chinese records for similar coincidences. The following argument can be put forward against this undertaking. The pulsar NP 0532 has by far the shortest known period and, further, its period is increasing2. If all pulsars begin their existence with about the same period and if the period always increases secularly, then the much longer periods of the other pulsars imply that they were formed long before historical times. But this argument is, of course, based on only one single instance. If the radio sources OON 6A and CTB 41 associated respectively with Tycho's supernova of 1572 and Kepler's of 1604 are indeed pulsars with periods even shorter than that of NP 0532, then the argument would be compelling, but, as things are, it is better to adopt a more flexible stand and assume that the period of a pulsar is not a function of its age only and that at least some of the other known pulsars could have been formed within the last two or three thousand years.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. 1

    Cocke, W. J., Disney, M. J., and Taylor, D. J., Nature, 221, 525 (1969).

  2. 2

    Richards, D., IAU Circ. No. 2114 (1968).

  3. 3

    Hsi, Tse-Tsung, Acta Astronomica Sinica, 3, 183 (1955); English trans., Smithson. Contr. Astrophys., 2, 109 (1958).

  4. 4

    Xi, Ze-zong and Bo, Shu-ren, Acta Astronomica Sinica, 13, 1 (1965); English trans., NASA TT F-388 (1966).

  5. 5

    Ho Peng Yoke, Vistas in Astronomy, 5, 127 (1962).

  6. 6

    Chao, Y. R., and Yang, L. S., Concise Dictionary of Spoken Chinese (Harvard Univ. Press, 1952).

  7. 7

    Williams, J., Observations of Comets extracted from the Chinese Annals (London, 1871).

  8. 8

    Howard, W. E., and Maran, S. P., Astrophys. J. Suppl., 101 (1968).

  9. 9

    Braes, L. L. E., and Hovenier, J. W., Bull. Astron. Inst. Netherlands, 18, 294 (1966).

Download references

Author information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

KIANG, T. Possible Dates of Birth of Pulsars from Ancient Chinese Records. Nature 223, 599–601 (1969). https://doi.org/10.1038/223599a0

Download citation

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.