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Astronomers find ‘surprise’ pulsar, ‘most important planet ever’ outside solar system


Space-watchers have a lot of news to digest after the discoveries of a new pulsar in a faraway galaxy. A Venus-like exoplanet was also spotted, a mere 39 light-years away, and a rocky dwarf planet in our own solar system.

NASA announced on Thursday that its Fermi space telescope has found a gamma-ray pulsar in another galaxy. Dubbed PSR J0540-6919, the rapidly spinning neutron star lies outside the Tarantula Nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a galaxy about 163,000 light-years away.

“It’s now clear that a single pulsar… is responsible for roughly half of the gamma-ray brightness we originally thought came from the nebula,” said Pierrick Martin, an astrophysicist at the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in Toulouse, France, and lead researcher on the project. “That is a genuine surprise.”

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