Compact jets that shoot matter into space in a continuous stream at near the speed of light have long been assumed to be a unique feature of black holes. But these odd features of the universe may be more common than once thought.
Artist concept shows jets of material
shooting out from the neutron star. NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (SSC)
Astrophysicists using NASAs Spitzer Space Telescope recently spotted one of these jets around a super-dense dead star, confirming for the first time that neutron stars as well as black holes can produce these fire-hose-like jets of matter. A paper detailing their surprising discovery appears in this week’s issue of the Astrophysical Journal Letters.
"For years, scientists suspected that something unique to black holes must be fueling the continuous compact jets because we only saw them coming from black hole systems,” said Simone Migliari, an astrophysicist at the University of California, San Diego’s Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences and the lead author of the paper. “Now that Spitzer has revealed a steady jet coming from a neutron star in an X-ray binary system, we know that the jets must be fueled by something that both systems share.”
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