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Did NASA Discover an Awesome Spaceship or Is This Pulsar Just Happy to See Us?

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NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory has captured this incredible image of an object 1,000 light years away from Earth. It looks like an awesome Klingon spaceship accelerating to Warp 10. Or a majestic 12-mile-long Cylon Basestar that flies through the cosmos rotating eleven times every second.

It's name is Vela and it is a pulsar that "spews out a jet of charged particles that race out along the pulsar's rotation axis at about 70% of the speed of light." According to NASA, it's the first of its kind to be found in our galaxy, the Milky Way.

Chandra captured eight images of the Vela pulsar between June and September 2010 which suggest that it is p"recessing, as it spins." Precessing is the "slow movement of the axis of a spinning body around another axis due to a torque (such as gravitational influence) acting to change the direction of the first axis." In other words, it's wobbling. Earth also precesses, which means that, in a few thousand years, Polaris will not longer be the Northern Star. But while Earth's precessing period is 26,000 years, Vela is about 120 days. It's a rate so large that we limited humans can't even begin to picture.


Vela was formed from the remnants of a supernova that exploded more than 10,000 years ago. You can see where the pulsar is located in the image below. [Chandra X-ray Observatory]