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Why don't all neutron stars become pulsars?

How is it that some neutron stars become pulsars and others do not?

In order to answer this question, it is necessary to understand the relation between neutron stars and pulsars. A neutron star has a very powerful magnetic field (about 1012 gauss compared to about 0.6 gauss on Earth) and spins very fast (about 100 times a second). Further, there is a plethora of charged particles in the environment of a neutron star, so that the neutron star emits jets of radiation through the magnetic poles. You may be aware that the magnetic pole and geographic pole (axis of spin) do not coincide in Earth. Similarly, they do not coincide in several neutron stars. So, when the neutron star spins, the beams of radiation are swept around the spin axis. If we happen to lie in the path of the beam, then we see a pulsar. In many cases, Earth does not happen to lie in the path of the beam, and so we do not see a pulsar.

November 2001, Jagadheep D. Pandian (more by Jagadheep D. Pandian) (Like this Answer)

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