By: Elizabeth Howell
Published: 01/24/2013 02:11 PM EST on SPACE.com
Scientists have discovered a puzzling spinning star that is spontaneously switching between two very different personalities, flipping between emitting strong X-rays and emitting intense radio waves.
While radio frequencies are known to vary as the star changes personalities, the newfound star is the first time example of variability in X-rays as well. The star, called a pulsar because it appears to pulse, has astronomers perplexed.
"When we look now to what is so far published in papers, nothing at this moment can explain what is happening," said the study's lead author, Wim Hermsen of the Netherlands Institute for Space Research and the University of Amsterdam.
The newfound pulsar is officially known as PSR B0943+10. The 5 million-year-old spinning star whips through a rotation every 1.1 seconds — which is considered pretty slow for a star of its type, researchers said.