Observations of explosions from an ultra-powerful magnetic neutron star playing hide-and-seek with astronomers suggest that these exotic objects called magnetars — capable of stripping a credit card clean 100,000 miles away — are far more common than previously thought.
Scientists from the United States and Canada present this result today at the meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Atlanta . The work is based on observations with the European Space Agencys XMM-Newton observatory and NASAs Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer.
"We only know of about ten magnetars in the Milky Way galaxy," said the investigations leader, Dr. Peter Woods of NASAs Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville , Ala. , based at the National Space Science and Technology in Huntsville . "If the antics of the magnetar we are studying now are typical, turning on and off but never getting exceptionally bright, then there very well could be hundreds more out there."
Steve Roy | MSFC
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