Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Going to extremes: Pulsar gives insight on ultra dense matter and magnetic fields

14.12.2004


A long look at a young pulsar with NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory revealed unexpectedly rapid cooling, which suggests that it contains much denser matter than previously expected. The pulsar’s cool temperature and the vast magnetic web of high-energy particles that surrounds it have implications for the theory of nuclear matter and the origin of magnetic fields in cosmic objects.



An international team of scientists used the Chandra data to measure the temperature of the pulsar at the center of 3C58, the remains of a star observed to explode in the year 1181. Chandra’s image of 3C58 also shows spectacular jets, rings and magnetized loops of high-energy particles generated by the pulsar.

"We now have strong evidence that, in slightly more than 800 years, the surface of the 3C 58 pulsar has cooled to a temperature of slightly less than a million degrees Celsius," said Patrick Slane of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., and lead author on a paper describing these results in the November 20, 2004 issue of The Astrophysical Journal. "A million degrees may sound pretty hot, but for a young neutron star that’s like the frozen tundra in Green Bay, Wisconsin."


Pulsars are formed when the central core of a massive star collapses to create a dense object about 15 miles across that is composed almost entirely of neutrons. Collisions between neutrons and other subatomic particles in the interior of the star produce neutrinos that carry away energy as they escape from the star. This cooling process depends critically on the density and type of particles in the interior, so measurements of the surface temperature of pulsars provide a way to probe extreme conditions where densities are so high that our current understanding of how particles interact with one another is limited. They represent the maximum densities that can be attained before the star collapses to form a black hole.

The relatively cool temperature of the 3C58 pulsar, combined with evidence from the Vela pulsar and other young neutron stars, points to rapid cooling due to unexpected conditions in the neutron stars. One possibility is that more protons than expected survived the crush to neutron star densities, or perhaps an exotic form of sub-nuclear particles is responsible for more rapid cooling.

Surrounding the pulsar is a bright doughnut-shaped, or toroidal, structure, with jet-like features extending in a perpendicular direction away from the torus. These features, which are due to radiation from extremely high energy particles produced by the pulsar, show a strong resemblance to the rings and jets around the Crab pulsar.

Chandra images of the 3C58, Crab, and a growing list of other pulsars provide dramatic proof that strong electromagnetic fields around rapidly rotating neutron stars are powerful generators of high-energy particles. One of the more intriguing implications of these results is that pulsars can spin magnetic fields as well as high-energy particles far out into space.

The intricate structure of X-ray loops visible in the Chandra image and radio images of 3C58 in the nebula that extends a dozen light years from the pulsar likely represents the complex magnetic field structure there. Detailed analysis and comparison of these structures with those seen in the Crab Nebula and other pulsars should help astrophysicists to better understand how magnetic fields are produced by pulsars, and on a much larger scale by disks of matter swirling into supermassive black holes in galaxies.

Chandra observed 3C58, which is about 10,000 light years from Earth, for almost 100 hours between April 22-26, 2003, with its Advanced CCD Imaging Spectrometer instrument. Other members of the research team were David Helfand (Columbia University), Eric van der Swaluw (FOM Institute of Plasma Physics, the Netherlands), and Stephen Murray (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics).

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA’s Office of Space Science, Washington. Northrop Grumman of Redondo Beach, Calif., formerly TRW, Inc., was the prime development contractor for the observatory. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls science and flight operations from the Chandra X-ray Center in Cambridge, Mass.

Megan Watzke | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Temperature-controlled fiber-optic light source with liquid core
20.06.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Photonische Technologien e. V.

nachricht New material for splitting water
19.06.2018 | American Institute of Physics

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: Temperature-controlled fiber-optic light source with liquid core

In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.

Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...

Im Focus: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Better model of water under extreme conditions could aid understanding of Earth's mantle

21.06.2018 | Earth Sciences

What are the effects of coral reef marine protected areas?

21.06.2018 | Life Sciences

The Janus head of the South Asian monsoon

21.06.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>