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A spinning neutron star is tied to a mysterious tail, or is it? Astronomers using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory have found a long, X-ray bright tail streaming away from the pulsar known as PSR J0357. The tail appears to stretch for over 4 light years from behind the pulsar, which would make it the longest one ever seen trailing behind this type of pulsar. However, as is often the case in astronomy, things are not quite so simple. The amount of energy being lost from the pulsar doesn't seem to account for all of the material seen in the tail. Also, the brightest portion of the tail is not actually near the pulsar, which scientists would expect. So scientists plan on looking at PSR J0357 more in the future with Chandra and other telescopes, and hope that even more data will help them pin down what is happening in this intriguing object.
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(Credit: NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)


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