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 Tune your radio: galaxies sing while forming stars
21.02.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie

nachricht Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms
17.02.2017 | Universität Konstanz

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: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Impacts of mass coral die-off on Indian Ocean reefs revealed

21.02.2017 | Earth Sciences

Novel breast tomosynthesis technique reduces screening recall rate

21.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Use your Voice – and Smart Homes will “LISTEN”

21.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>