Are there any particular places pulsars are distributed? If so, why? Any information to links and articles will also be appreciated. I just want to understand more about pulsars and if there are any patterns in their location.


1 Answer 1


The biggest pattern in the spatial distribution of pulsars, is that they are concentrated towards the Galactic plane. The plot below (from Lorimer 2005) shows the sky distribution of pulsars in Galactic coordinates.

Spatial distribution of pulsars from Lorimer (2005)

The reason for this is that (I) Most pulsars (shown as black dots in the diagram) are rapidly rotating neutron stars, "born" in supernovae as a result of the deaths of massive stars. These massive stars have short lifetimes and so die near where they in turn were born, which is in rich star forming regions in the dense gas and dust clouds of the Milky Way plane. (II) The pulsar phenomenon also has a short lifetime. Pulsars spin-down on timescales of a million years or so, therefore even if the supernova that produced them gives them a "kick", they cannot move far from the plane before "switching off".

These considerations apply to "young pulsars". There is another small population of fast-rotating old pulsars (shown as red points in the plot) that have been reborn as a result of accretion from a companion. These older pulsars are more widely dispersed can be found in the Galactic halo and are found abundantly in globular clusters, where interactions between stars may be responsible for bringing the components of a neutron star binary closer together.

  • $\begingroup$ Have there been any extragalactic pulsars detected? Here's an account of an unsuccessful search. arxiv.org/abs/1702.08214 $\endgroup$
    – D. Halsey
    Dec 23, 2019 at 15:45
  • $\begingroup$ @D.Halsey Lots of pulsars have been found in other galaxies. e.g. arxiv.org/abs/1304.6412 $\endgroup$
    – ProfRob
    Dec 23, 2019 at 17:02

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