Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The mouse that soared

28.09.2004


Astronomers have used an X-ray image to make the first detailed study of the behavior of high-energy particles around a fast moving pulsar. The image, from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, shows the shock wave created as a pulsar plows supersonically through interstellar space. These results will provide insight into theories for the production of powerful winds of matter and antimatter by pulsars.


A shock wave traveling through space (NASA/CXC/SAO/B. Gaensler et al.)



Chandra’s image of the glowing cloud, known as the Mouse, shows a stubby bright column of high-energy particles, about four light years in length, swept back by the pulsar’s interaction with interstellar gas. The intense source at the head of the X-ray column is the pulsar, estimated to be moving through space at about 1.3 million miles per hour.

A cone-shaped cloud of radio-wave-emitting particles envelopes the X-ray column. The Mouse, a.k.a. G359.23-0.82, was discovered in 1987 by radio astronomers using the National Science Foundation’s Very Large Array in New Mexico. It gets its name from its appearance in radio images that show a compact snout, a bulbous body, and a remarkable long, narrow, tail that extends for about 55 light years.


"A few dozen pulsar wind nebulae are known, including the spectacular Crab Nebula, but none have the Mouse’s combination of relatively young age and incredibly rapid motion through interstellar space," said Bryan Gaensler, lead author of a paper on the Mouse that will appear in an upcoming issue of The Astrophysical Journal. "We effectively are seeing a supersonic cosmic wind tunnel, in which we can study the effects of a pulsar’s motion on its pulsar wind nebula, and test current theories."

Pulsars are known to be rapidly spinning, highly magnetized neutron stars -- objects so dense that a mass equal to that of the Sun is packed into a diameter of about 12 miles. Their formation is associated with a Type II supernova, the collapse and subsequent explosion of a massive star. The origin of a pulsar’s high velocity is not known, but many astrophysicists suspect that it is directly related to the explosive circumstances involved in the birth of the pulsar.

The rapid rotation and strong magnetic field of a pulsar can generate a wind of high-energy matter and antimatter particles that rush out at near the speed of light. These pulsar winds create large, magnetized bubbles of high-energy particles called pulsar wind nebulae. The X-ray and radio data on the Mouse have enabled Gaensler and his colleagues to constrain the properties of the ambient gas, to estimate the velocity of the pulsar, and to analyze the structure of the various shock waves created by the pulsar, the flow of particles away from the pulsar, and the magnetic field in the nebula.

Other members of the research team were Eric van der Swaluw (FOM Institute of Physics, The Netherlands), Fernando Camilo (Columbia Univ., New York), Vicky Kaspi (McGill Univ., Montreal), Frederick K. Baganoff (MIT, Cambridge, Mass.), Farhad Yusef-Zadeh (Northwestern), and Richard Manchester (Australia Telescope National Facility). The pulsar in the Mouse was originally detected by Camilo et al. in 2002 using Australia’s Parkes radio telescope. Chandra observed The Mouse on October 23 and 24, 2002.

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.

Steve Roy | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nasa.gov

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte
17.08.2018 | Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT)

nachricht Protecting the power grid: Advanced plasma switch for more efficient transmission
17.08.2018 | DOE/Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

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: It’s All in the Mix: Jülich Researchers are Developing Fast-Charging Solid-State Batteries

There are currently great hopes for solid-state batteries. They contain no liquid parts that could leak or catch fire. For this reason, they do not require cooling and are considered to be much safer, more reliable, and longer lasting than traditional lithium-ion batteries. Jülich scientists have now introduced a new concept that allows currents up to ten times greater during charging and discharging than previously described in the literature. The improvement was achieved by a “clever” choice of materials with a focus on consistently good compatibility. All components were made from phosphate compounds, which are well matched both chemically and mechanically.

The low current is considered one of the biggest hurdles in the development of solid-state batteries. It is the reason why the batteries take a relatively long...

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum bugs, meet your new swatter

20.08.2018 | Information Technology

A novel synthetic antibody enables conditional “protein knockdown” in vertebrates

20.08.2018 | Life Sciences

Metamolds: Molding a mold

20.08.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>