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Stars Make Scientists' Heads Spin

paraphrazed by:
Brett Wilkins

Pulsars are the fastest spinning stars in the universe, rotating at hundreds of revolutions per second, and they could go twice as fast before flying apart. NASA is doing a new study that suggests that these exotic stars are held together by gravitational radiation that puts on the breaks. Observations by NASA's Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer of 11 pulsars found that there seems to be a natural limit on how fast the strange stars can spin. Deepto Chakrabarty, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology astronomer and the lead author of a study appearing in the journal Nature, states: " The fastest-spinning pulsars could technically go twice as fast, but something stops them before they break apart." Chakrabarty called the natural brake a " cosmic speed limit" and said it may be the result of rotational energy being emitted from the stars. Pulsars are the remnants of stars that have exploded and then collapsed into a dense body equal to about 1.5 solar masses, but measuring only about 10 miles across.