Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Spitzer Telescope reveals jets of matter around dead star

28.06.2006
A team of scientists, including researchers in the University of Southampton’s School of Physics and Astronomy, have shown that black holes are not the only known objects in the universe to produce infrared light from beams of particles being shot into space at nearly the speed of light.

Previously, these steady ‘relativistic jets’ were only seen from black holes which form part of a black hole X-ray binary, a system containing a black hole orbited by a normal star which is so close that the black hole's gravity can peel off the outer part of the normal star and suck in its gas through an accretion disk or disk of matter.


A computer-generated visualisation of a black hole or neutron star X-ray binary system. Image produced using a visualisation tool provided by Rob Hynes of the Louisiana State University, USA.

Using the extremely sensitive infrared Spitzer Space Telescope recently launched by NASA, the team discovered one of these steady jets of matter coming from a neutron star (a super-dense type of dead star) in an X-ray binary system. For many years scientists have debated whether there was something unique to black holes that fuelled relativistic jets. It is now clear that the jets must be fuelled by something that both black holes and neutron stars share.

Neutron stars form in the death knells of massive stars, when the pressure at the centre of the star is so large that the electrons and protons of normal matter combine to form a star made almost entirely of neutrons. Not quite dense enough to be black holes, they have masses slightly larger than the Sun's, but diameters about the size of a city, making them as dense as the nuclei of atoms.

Dr Thomas Maccarone, of the University of Southampton, explains: ‘Jets of matter shot off by black holes are usually observed with a radio telescope which enables astronomers to isolate the jet from everything else in the system. However, observing a neutron star’s jets with a radio telescope would take many hours because the jets are very faint. The Spitzer Space Telescope sees light which is redder than the reddest colours visible by the human eye and also redder than the light given off by normal stars.’

Using the Spitzer Telescope, the researchers were therefore able to detect the faint jet of a particular neutron star, 4U 0614+091, in minutes even though it is located about 10,000 light-years away in the constellation Orion. This signal would have taken almost a day to detect on the most powerful radio telescopes on Earth. The Spitzer Telescope also helped the team infer details about the jet’s geometry. The team’s data indicates that the presence of an accretion disk and an intense gravitational field may be all that is needed to create and fuel a jet of matter.

Dr Maccarone continues: ‘For the past 25 years, astronomers have debated the importance of a black hole in jet production. By comparing the behaviour of the relativistic jets seen from neutron star X-ray binaries and from black hole X-ray binaries, astronomers have hoped to compare neutron stars and black holes directly and possibly to see whether these jets are extracting the black holes' rotational energy. This discovery blazes the trail for future studies which should help reveal the nature of relativistic jets.’

Sarah Watts | alfa
Further information:
http://www.soton.ac.uk

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Basque researchers turn light upside down
23.02.2018 | Elhuyar Fundazioa

nachricht Attoseconds break into atomic interior
23.02.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Quantenoptik

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: Attoseconds break into atomic interior

A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.

In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...

Im Focus: Good vibrations feel the force

A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.

By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Basque researchers turn light upside down

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator

23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Attoseconds break into atomic interior

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>