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!
Move over, lasers: Scientists can now create holograms from neutrons, too
21.10.2016 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Finding the lightest superdeformed triaxial atomic nucleus
20.10.2016 | The Henryk Niewodniczanski Institute of Nuclear Physics Polish Academy of Sciences
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
21.10.2016 | Information Technology
21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences