CSIRO (Astronomers of Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization) astronomers noticed weird changes in the timing and characteristic pulse of pulsar PSR J0738-4042, signals that have been attributed to multiple asteroid hits. How does this pulsar deal with these errant asteroids? To put it simply, powerful beams of radiation emit from their intensely magnetized poles. The pulsar’s radio beam zaps the asteroid, vaporizing it. (If aligned correctly with Earth, these emissions can be observed as ultra-precise radio pulses. The asteroid hit is observed through a lag in the pulse generated.)
It is my belief that this could hold a possible future method of eradicating inbound asteroids for the Earth – though the power necessary may require that first we complete work on the fusion power plants currently being worked out (everywhere – from France and the reactor they are building to MIT, and it all has been quite successful thus far, just takes time). What I am suggesting is: satellites or robotic spacecraft evenly spaced around the earth and at quite a distance from earth – each capable of beaming electromagnetic radiation at some threatening asteroid. (It would be accompanied by its companion telescope/spectral imaging computer that seeks out and analyzes content of the offending asteroids.)
To fully contemplate the idea first one must consider exactly what a pulsar is.
A pulsar is a highly magnetized rotating star that emits a beam of electromagnetic radiation. Which begs the question, what is a neutron star? A neutron star is the remnants of a star that has collapsed under its own gravity. It is very dense, consisting of a compacted mass of neutrons. They have short and regular rotational periods - seen in the very precise interval between pulses in a pulsar.
The formation of a pulsar is initiated when a massive star compresses during a supernova, collapsing into a neutron star. While retaining most of the neutron star’s angular momentum; having lost a fraction of its original radius, the pulsar forms due to a very high rotational speed. Along the magnetic axis of the pulsar a beam of radiation is emitted, spinning along with the neutron star. It is this magnetic axis that determines the direction of the electromagnetic beam which may or may not be the same as its rotational axis. This misalignment causes the beam to appear once every rotation and so seem pulse.
What would be the important information here is - the beam originates from rotational energy of the neutron star, the neutron star generates an electrical field from the movement of the strong magnetic field; this results in the acceleration of protons and electrons on the stars surface and also the creation of the electromagnetic beam which emanates from the poles of the magnetic field.
Knowing that information and understanding that it is capable of decimating a billion ton asteroid, can we copy this? Is there some way to accomplish this affect? The Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics has long been working on how pulsars emit their radiation. Hopefully we are also working on how to simulate them and destroy future threats to Earth.