Scientists Ride the 'Drifting Carousel' to Understand Radio Wave-Emitting Stars

Scientists may soon understand the mysterious mechanism that causes beams of radio waves to shoot out from pulsars - super-magnetic rotating stars in our Galaxy. New research from Curtin University, obtained using the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) radio telescope located in the Western Australian outback, suggests the answer could lie in a 'drifting carousel' found in a special class of pulsars. Thousands of pulsars have been seen since their first discovery in the late 1960s, but questions still remain as to why these stars emit radio beams in the first place, and what type of emission model best describes the radio waves, or 'light', that can be seen. The 'drifting carousel' model describes the emission as coming from patches of charged particles, arranged in a rotating ring around magnetic field lines, or a carousel.