Moreover, its high luminosity indicates that J1823-3021A is the youngest millisecond pulsar found to date, and that its magnetic field is much stronger than theoretically predicted. This therefore suggests the existence of a new population of such extreme objects. The discovery was made by Paulo Freire and an international team of scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn. The researchers evaluated data from the Fermi space telescope.
The NGC 6624 globular cluster in the Sagittarius constellation. The astronomers have identified a total of six pulsars in this globular cluster to date; the first one was J1823-3021A. Credit: Copyright NASA/ESA/I. King (University of California, Berkeley)
When the nuclear fuel in the core of a massive star is spent, the star collapses and releases so much energy in the process that it briefly radiates a billion times brighter than before. Such a supernova also marks the birth of a neutron star, an extremely compact atomic nucleus with a diameter of around 20 kilometres but several million times the mass of the Earth. The neutron star spins very rapidly about its axis and accelerated; charged particles emit electromagnetic radiation along the magnetic field lines in different wavelength bands. This radiation is bundled along the magnetic field's axis - like the light beam from a beacon.
Such a pulsar has rotational periods of between 16 milliseconds and eight seconds. The so-called millisecond pulsars, which have rotational periods down to 1.4 milliseconds, rotate even faster – this corresponds to 43,000 rotations per minute! It would seem that the initially lower rotational speed was subsequently increased as matter was accreted from a companion star. It is indeed the case that most of these millisecond pulsars can be found in binary star systems.
Millisecond pulsars have an extremely high rotational stability – even on long time scales; their cycle accuracy is comparable with that of the best atomic clocks on Earth. They are like huge flywheels in space, and hardly anything can affect their rotation. These objects can assist scientists to test the General Theory of Relativity; they can also be used in the search for gravitational waves and to analyse the properties of the superdense matter in the pulsar.
"We have now discovered more than 100 of these objects with radio telescopes," says Paulo Freire from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy. "The high sensitivity of the Fermi telescope has now enabled us to track down a millisecond pulsar by its gamma radiation as well for the first time." The researchers found the pulsar with the designation J1823−3021A in the centre of a globular cluster.
Globular clusters are very old swarms of hundreds of thousands of stars whose gravitational forces bind them to each other. They are home to a large number of binary star systems that can lead to the formation of millisecond pulsars. One of these star clusters is NGC 6624 out towards the Sagittarius constellation. It is in the central region of our Milky Way, around 27,000 light years away. The researchers have been able to find a total of six pulsars in this globular cluster; J1823-3021A was the first.
With a rotational period of only 5.44 milliseconds (11,000 rotations per minute) it is also the most luminous pulsar detected to date in a globular cluster. J1823-3021A had already been discovered in the radio band back in 1994. Since then, regular time sequence measurements have been carried out with large radio telescopes, in particular with the Lovell telescope of the University of Manchester (Great Britain) and the Nançay telescope in France.
"We were very surprised to discover that the pulsar radiates very brightly in the gamma radiation band as well," says Damien Parent from the US Center for Earth Observing and Space Research. "We did not expect these millisecond pulsars to be so bright. This implies an unexpectedly strong magnetic field for such a rapidly rotating pulsar."
"This is a challenge for our current theories regarding the formation of such pulsars," explains Michael Kramer, Director at the Max Planck Institute in Bonn and head of the Fundamental Physics in Radio Astronomy research group there. "We are currently investigating a whole series of possible explanations. Nature might even be forming millisecond pulsars in a way that we do not even have on the radar as yet."
"No matter how these anomalous pulsars might form, one thing seems to be certain," says Paulo Freire: "In globular clusters, at least, these are objects so young that they are probably forming as often as the large number of normal millisecond pulsars which we already know about."
Paulo Freire | EurekAlert!
The measurements of the expansion of the universe don't add up
19.11.2019 | FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology
How LISA pathfinder detected dozens of 'comet crumbs'
19.11.2019 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Nanooptical traps are a promising building block for quantum technologies. Austrian and German scientists have now removed an important obstacle to their practical use. They were able to show that a special form of mechanical vibration heats trapped particles in a very short time and knocks them out of the trap.
By controlling individual atoms, quantum properties can be investigated and made usable for technological applications. For about ten years, physicists have...
An international team of scientists, including three researchers from New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), has shed new light on one of the central mysteries of solar physics: how energy from the Sun is transferred to the star's upper atmosphere, heating it to 1 million degrees Fahrenheit and higher in some regions, temperatures that are vastly hotter than the Sun's surface.
With new images from NJIT's Big Bear Solar Observatory (BBSO), the researchers have revealed in groundbreaking, granular detail what appears to be a likely...
The Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM in Dresden has succeeded in using Selective Electron Beam Melting (SEBM) to...
Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are valuable for a wide variety of applications. Made of graphene sheets rolled into tubes 10,000 times smaller than a human hair, CNTs have an exceptional strength-to-mass ratio and excellent thermal and electrical properties. These features make them ideal for a range of applications, including supercapacitors, interconnects, adhesives, particle trapping and structural color.
New research reveals even more potential for CNTs: as a coating, they can both repel and hold water in place, a useful property for applications like printing,...
If you've ever tried to put several really strong, small cube magnets right next to each other on a magnetic board, you'll know that you just can't do it. What happens is that the magnets always arrange themselves in a column sticking out vertically from the magnetic board. Moreover, it's almost impossible to join several rows of these magnets together to form a flat surface. That's because magnets are dipolar. Equal poles repel each other, with the north pole of one magnet always attaching itself to the south pole of another and vice versa. This explains why they form a column with all the magnets aligned the same way.
Now, scientists at ETH Zurich have managed to create magnetic building blocks in the shape of cubes that - for the first time ever - can be joined together to...
15.11.2019 | Event News
15.11.2019 | Event News
05.11.2019 | Event News
19.11.2019 | Life Sciences
19.11.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
19.11.2019 | Health and Medicine