In 2020, astronomers extra a new member to an special family members of unique objects with the discovery of a magnetar. New observations from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory assist aid the idea that it is also a pulsar, that means it emits normal pulses of mild.
Magnetars are a type of neutron star, an unbelievably dense item primarily created up of tightly packed neutron, which forms from the collapsed main of a substantial star all through a supernova.
What sets magnetars apart from other neutron stars is that they also have the most highly effective acknowledged magnetic fields in the universe. For context, the strength of our planet’s magnetic area has a value of about a person Gauss, whilst a refrigerator magnet steps about a hundred Gauss. Magnetars, on the other hand, have magnetic fields of about a million billion Gauss. If a magnetar was found a sixth of the way to the Moon (about 40,000 miles), it would wipe the data from all of the credit cards on Earth.
On March twelve, 2020, astronomers detected a new magnetar with NASA’s Neil Gehrels Swift Telescope. This is only the thirty first acknowledged magnetar, out of the close to 3,000 acknowledged neutron stars.
Following stick to-up observations, scientists decided that this item, dubbed J1818.-1607, was distinctive for other causes. Very first, it may well be the youngest acknowledged magnetar, with an age estimated to be about five hundred years aged. This is based mostly on how rapidly the rotation amount is slowing and the assumption that it was born spinning significantly more quickly. Next, it also spins more quickly than any beforehand learned magnetar, rotating the moment all-around each and every 1.4 seconds.
Chandra’s observations of J1818.-1607 obtained considerably less than a thirty day period right after the discovery with Swift gave astronomers the initial significant-resolution check out of this item in X-rays. The Chandra data uncovered a issue source wherever the magnetar was found, which is surrounded by diffuse X-ray emission, most likely triggered by X-rays reflecting off dust found in its vicinity. (Some of this diffuse X-ray emission may well also be from winds blowing away from the neutron star.)
Harsha Blumer of West Virginia University and Samar Safi-Harb of the University of Manitoba in Canada not too long ago released success from the Chandra observations of J1818.-1607 in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
This composite picture contains a extensive area of check out in the infrared from two NASA missions, the Spitzer Area Telescope and the Huge-Industry Infrared Survey Explorer (Intelligent), taken prior to the magnetar’s discovery. X-rays from Chandra show the magnetar in purple. The magnetar is found near to the aircraft of the Milky Way galaxy at a distance of about 21,000 mild-years from Earth.
Other astronomers have also noticed J1818.-1607 with radio telescopes, this kind of as the NSF’s Karl Jansky Very Massive Array (VLA), and decided that it gives off radio waves. This implies that it also has attributes comparable to that of a regular “rotation-powered pulsar,” a type of neutron star that gives off beams of radiation that are detected as repeating pulses of emission as it rotates and slows down. Only 5 magnetars together with this a person have been recorded to also act like pulsars, constituting considerably less than .2% of the acknowledged neutron star population.
The Chandra observations may well also provide aid for this normal idea. Safi-Harb and Blumer researched how successfully J1818.-1607 is converting electrical power from its reducing amount of spin into X-rays. They concluded this effectiveness is lower than that ordinarily discovered for magnetars, and most likely within just the range discovered for other rotation-powered pulsars.
The explosion that made a magnetar of this age would be predicted to have still left at the rear of a detectable debris area. To research for this supernova remnant, Safi-Harb and Blumer appeared at the X-rays from Chandra, infrared data from Spitzer, and the radio data from the VLA. Centered on the Spitzer and VLA data they discovered achievable evidence for a remnant, but at a comparatively significant distance away from the magnetar. In get to deal with this distance the magnetar would need to have to have traveled at speeds significantly exceeding those people of the swiftest acknowledged neutron stars, even assuming it is significantly more mature than predicted, which would permit additional travel time.
NASA’s Marshall Area Flight Middle manages the Chandra plan. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory’s Chandra X-ray Middle controls science from Cambridge Massachusetts and flight functions from Burlington, Massachusetts.
For additional Chandra photos, multimedia and relevant materials, stop by: http://www.nasa.gov/chandra
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