Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics | University of Toronto | 2018 Ma 23
A team of astronomers has performed one of the highest resolution observations in astronomical history by observing two intense regions of radiation, 20 kilometres apart, around a star 6500 light-years away.
The observation is equivalent to using a telescope on Earth to see a flea on the surface of Pluto.
The extraordinary observation was made possible by the rare geometry and characteristics of a pair of stars orbiting each other. One is a cool, lightweight star called a brown dwarf, which features a “wake” or comet-like tail of gas. The other is an exotic, rapidly spinning star called a pulsar.
“The gas is acting like a magnifying glass right in front of the pulsar,” says Robert Main, lead author of the paper describing the observation being published May 24 in the journal Nature. “We are essentially looking at the pulsar through a naturally occurring magnifier which periodically allows us to see the two regions separately.” ...
Pulsar emission amplified and resolved by plasma lensing in an eclipsing binary - Robert Main et al