Astronomers wielding NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, say that they have found the brightest pulsar ever seen. Pulsars are the dense stellar corpses of a star gone supernovae, but they boast their own kind of life-after-death, and this one seems to be particularly mighty.

Fiona Harrison, the NuSTAR principle investigator at the California Institute of Technology, likes to compare this stunning discovery to the mid-1900s cartoon superhero "Mighty Mouse" - a lot of strength in a small package.

"It has all the power of a black hole, but with much less mass," she explained in a statement.

It's also incredibly bright to NASA instruments, blasting out ultra luminous X-rays (ULXs) in the predictable pulses that earn the celestial phenomenon its name. Until now, all ULX sources were thought to be black holes. Most pulsars send out pulses of primarily gamma radiation, not these incredibly unique X-rays.

In fact, this "Mighty Mouse" pulsar has an energy output equal to 10 million suns. That's 10 times more than the average strength of most X-ray pulsars.

So just what's going on here? According to a study recently published in the journal Nature, strength is all about a healthy diet, even for zombie stars.

Pulsars are a class of neutron stars, and like their black hole cousins, these zombie stars can gorge on stolen matter from nearby live stars. As the matter is dragged onto the neutron star, it heats up and glows with various rays in pulses. The confused astronomers theorize that this pulsar just happens to be eating absurdly fast - resulting in pulses of a greater intensity.

"The pulsar appears to be eating the equivalent of a black hole diet," Harrison said. "This result will help us understand how black holes gorge and grow so quickly, which is an important event in the formation of galaxies and structures in the Universe."

You can learn more about pulsars from the video below:

[Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech]