Astronomy:PSR J0738−4042

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Short description: Pulsar in the constellation Puppis
PSR J0738−4042
Observation data
Equinox J2000.0]] (ICRS)
Constellation Puppis
Right ascension 07h 38m 32.329s
Declination −40° 42' 40.94"
Spectral type Pulsar
Distance37,000 ly
Rotation374.919985032 ms[1]
Database references

PSR J0738−4042 is the first pulsar observed to have been affected by asteroids.[2]

It was originally discovered in 1968.[1] In 2013 scientists at the University of Oxford, Hartebeesthoek Observatory and CSIRO announced that they had observed changes in the pulsar's spin rate and the shape of its radio pulse indicating that asteroids were encountering it, including one with a mass of about a billion tons.[3]

We think the pulsar's radio beam zaps the asteroid, vaporising it. But the vaporised particles are electrically charged and they slightly alter the process that creates the pulsar's beam.
—Dr. Ryan Shannon, [2]

The scientists suggested that the material blown out from the explosion which formed the pulsar could have fallen back towards it, developing a disk of debris including asteroids.[4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 ATNF Pulsar Catalogue database entry. See Manchester, R. N. (2005). "The Australia Telescope National Facility Pulsar Catalogue". Astronomical Journal 129 (4): 1993–2006. doi:10.1086/428488. Bibcode2005AJ....129.1993M. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Rocks Around The Clock: Star PSR J0738-4042 Is Constantly Pummelled By Asteroids". Science 2.0. 2014-02-20. Retrieved 2014-02-23. 
  3. Brook, P. R.; Karastergiou, A.; Buchner, S.; Roberts, S. J.; Keith, M. J.; Johnston, S.; Shannon, R. M. (2014). "Evidence of an Asteroid Encountering a Pulsar". The Astrophysical Journal 780 (2): L31. doi:10.1088/2041-8205/780/2/L31. Bibcode2014ApJ...780L..31B. 
  4. "Star found being pounded by billion-ton asteroid". The Space Reporter. 2014-02-22. Retrieved 2014-02-23.