Why pulsars shine bright: A half-century-old mystery solved

Pulsars act like stellar lighthouses, shooting beams of radio waves from their magnetic poles. The cause of those beams has remained a mystery for more than 50 years. Now, a team of researchers suspects that they’ve finally identified the mechanism responsible: Newborn particles interact with the stars’ powerful electromagnetic fields, generating intense radio emissions, the team’s simulations suggest. The discovery could aid projects that rely on pulsar emissions, such as studies of gravitational waves.