Why do some stellar objects rotate hundreds of times per second?

The rapid spin of some astrophysical objects, such as millisecond pulsars, is initiated and maintained through a combination of factors. Firstly, the object must be small and dense, with a radius less than 30 miles (48 kilometers) to allow for sub-light-speed rotation. Neutron stars and black holes are the only stellar-mass objects that meet these criteria.

The process of reaching millisecond spin periods often involves accretion, where the object gains mass by pulling in material from a nearby companion. As this accreted material spirals in, it imparts angular momentum to the object, causing it to spin faster. This can occur as part of the collapse of a slowly spinning star into a neutron star or black hole.

Once these objects achieve rapid spin, their spin can be maintained with remarkable precision due to their flywheel-like nature. The spinning neutron star or black hole, now with a considerable amount of angular momentum, experiences minimal resistance in the vacuum of space.

However, millisecond pulsars, which are neutron stars, exhibit a slight slowing of their spin over time due to the weak magnetic field connecting them to the universe. This magnetic field introduces a small amount of “friction,” allowing scientists to predict changes in pulse arrival time with high precision for various experiments, including measurements of pulsar orbits and searches for gravitational waves.

Surendra Uikey

My name is Surendra Uikey, I am a science blogger, I have been blogging for the past three years, because I love to write, especially on astronomy, and I believe, if you want to learn something, then start learning others, By this it will be, that you learn things in a better way. In 2019, I started infinitycosmos.in, the aim of making infinitycosmos.in was to connect astronomy in simple words to common people.

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