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A millisecond pulsar


The radio properties of 4C21.53 have been an enigma for many years. First, the object displays interplanetary scintillations (IPS) at 81 MHz, indicating structure smaller than 1 are s, despite its low galactic latitude (−0.3°)1. IPS modulation is rare at low latitudes because of interstellar angular broadening. Second, the source has an extremely steep (v−2) spectrum at decametric wavelengths2. This combination of properties suggested that 4C21.53 was either an undetected pulsar or a member of some new class of objects. This puzzle may be resolved by the discovery and related observations of a fast pulsar, 1937+214, with a period of 1.558 ms in the constellation Vulpecula only a few degrees from the direction to the original pulsar, 1919+21. The existence of such a fast pulsar with no evidence either of a new formation event or of present energy losses raises new questions about the origin and evolution of pulsars.

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Backer, D., Kulkarni, S., Heiles, C. et al. A millisecond pulsar. Nature 300, 615–618 (1982).

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