Astronomers discover a doubtlessly new breed of neutron star


About 4,000 light-years from Earth, an astral entity launched a big flash of radiation thrice an hour, every for a minute at a time, taking researchers without warning.

“This object was appearing and disappearing over a few hours during our observations,” stated lead creator Dr. Natasha Hurley-Walker in a press release. “That was fully sudden. It was type of spooky for an astronomer as a result of there’s nothing recognized within the sky that does that.

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About each 20 minutes, the item turns into one of many brightest radio sources within the sky. Likely a neutron star or a white dwarf — the dense stays of formers stars — the item additionally emits highly-polarized radio waves. The examine was published in Nature Jan. 27, 2022.

If that wasn’t fascinating sufficient, Hurley-Walker additionally suspects the item additionally might need a excessive quantity of magnetic vitality which might put it within the operating to be an ‘ultra-long period magnetar.’

Bridging the hole

Magnetars are probably the most magnetic objects within the universe. Their magnetic fields are over a thousand trillion instances stronger than Earth’s. Like their much less magnetic cousins, pulsars, magnetars are recognized for emitting bursts of radiation. But the place pulsars are typically dependable with their pulses, magnetars are a bit extra erratic. Some of this erratic habits may be seen in quick radio bursts (FRB), sudden and intense explosions of radiation, which have been traced back to magnetars.

But how younger magnetars attain the stage of with the ability to produce FRBs is a thriller. One answer is ultra-long interval magnetars, which may bridge the hole.

“It’s a type of slowly spinning neutron star that has been predicted to exist theoretically,” stated Hurley-Walker. “But nobody expected to directly detect one like this because we didn’t expect them to be so bright. Somehow it’s converting magnetic energy to radio waves much more effectively than anything we’ve seen before.”

These transients — objects that activate and off — aren’t new to researchers, nonetheless transients can usually be described as gradual, showing over a couple of days and disappearing inside months, or quick, which seem for a short second at a time. This unusual object did neither, emphasizing its uniqueness.

According to Hurley-Walker, “more detections will tell astronomers whether this was a rare one-off event or a vast new population we’d never noticed before.”

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