Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Jekyll-Hyde neutron star discovered by researchers

25.02.2008
NASA and McGill scientists find star which morphs from pulsar to magnetar

Like something out of a Robert Louis Stevenson novel, researchers at NASA and McGill University discovered an otherwise normal pulsar which violently transformed itself temporarily into a magnetar, a stellar metamorphosis never observed before.

Powerful X-ray bursts from the pulsar in the Kes 75 supernova remnant were discovered by former McGill PhD Dr. Fotis Gavrill, currently assigned to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, in collaboration with Dr. Victoria Kaspi, leader of the McGill University Pulsar Group, her graduate student Maggie Livingstone, and very recent McGill PhD, Dr. Majorie Gonzalez, now of the University of British Columbia. Their results were published February 21 in the journal Science.

Pulsars and magnetars belong to the same class of ultradense, small stellar objects called neutron stars, left behind after massive stars die and explode as supernovae. Pulsars, by far the most common type, spin extremely rapidly and emit powerful bursts of radio waves. These waves are so regular that, when they were first detected in the 1960’s, researchers considered the possibility that they were signals from an extraterrestrial civilization. By contrast, magnetars are slowly rotating neutron stars which derive their energy from incredibly powerful magnetic fields, the strongest known in the universe. There are over 1800 known pulsars in our galaxy alone, but magnetars are much less common, said the researchers.

“Magnetars are actually very exotic objects,” said Dr. Kaspi, McGill’s Lorne Trottier Chair in Astrophysics and Cosmology and Canada Research Chair in Observational Astrophysics. “Their existence has only been established in the last 10 years, and we know of only a handful in the whole galaxy. They have dramatic X-ray and gamma-ray bursts and can emit huge flares, sometimes brighter than all other cosmic X-ray sources in the sky combined.”

This discovery, based on data from NASA’s Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) and Chandra X-ray Observatory satellites, is the long-sought-after missing link between the two types of neutron star, said the researchers. To date, the evolutionary relationship between pulsars and magnetars has been poorly understood. It was not clear if magnetars are simply a rare class of pulsars, or if some or all pulsars go through a magnetar phase as a normal part of their life cycles.

“Researchers have long been looking for transition objects,” explained Maggie Livingstone. “In particular we’ve kept our eyes on pulsars with high magnetic fields.”

“This source could be evolving into a magnetar,” added Dr. Kaspi. “Or it could just show occasional magnetar-like properties, we just don’t know yet. We’re very anxious to find out.”

Mark Shainblum | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mcgill.ca

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Enhancing the quantum sensing capabilities of diamond
23.11.2017 | The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

nachricht Quantum optics allows us to abandon expensive lasers in spectroscopy
22.11.2017 | Lomonosov Moscow State University

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Frictional Heat Powers Hydrothermal Activity on Enceladus

Computer simulation shows how the icy moon heats water in a porous rock core

Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Underwater acoustic localization of marine mammals and vehicles

23.11.2017 | Information Technology

Enhancing the quantum sensing capabilities of diamond

23.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Meadows beat out shrubs when it comes to storing carbon

23.11.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>