A long look at a young pulsar with NASAs Chandra X-ray Observatory revealed unexpectedly rapid cooling, which suggests that it contains much denser matter than previously expected. The pulsars 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. Chandras 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 thats like the frozen tundra in Green Bay, Wisconsin."
Megan Watzke | EurekAlert!
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