In 2020, astronomers added a brand new member to an unique household of unique objects with the invention of a magnetar. New observations from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory assist assist the concept that it is usually a pulsar, which means it emits common pulses of sunshine.
Magnetars are a sort of neutron star, an extremely dense object primarily made up of tightly packed neutron, which varieties from the collapsed core of a large star throughout a supernova.
What units magnetars aside from different neutron stars is that additionally they have probably the most highly effective identified magnetic fields within the universe. For context, the power of our planet’s magnetic discipline has a worth of about one Gauss, whereas a fridge magnet measures about 100 Gauss. Magnetars, however, have magnetic fields of about 1,000,000 billion Gauss. If a magnetar was situated a sixth of the way in which to the Moon (about 40,000 miles), it will wipe the information from all the bank cards on Earth.
On March 12, 2020, astronomers detected a brand new magnetar with NASA’s Neil Gehrels Swift Telescope. That is solely the 31st identified magnetar, out of the roughly 3,000 identified neutron stars.
After follow-up observations, researchers decided that this object, dubbed J1818.0-1607, was particular for different causes. First, it might be the youngest identified magnetar, with an age estimated to be about 500 years previous. That is based mostly on how shortly the rotation charge is slowing and the belief that it was born spinning a lot quicker. Secondly, it additionally spins quicker than any beforehand found magnetar, rotating as soon as round each 1.four seconds.
Chandra’s observations of J1818.0-1607 obtained lower than a month after the invention with Swift gave astronomers the primary high-resolution view of this object in X-rays. The Chandra knowledge revealed a degree supply the place the magnetar was situated, which is surrounded by diffuse X-ray emission, doubtless attributable to X-rays reflecting off mud situated in its neighborhood. (A few of this diffuse X-ray emission might also be from winds blowing away from the neutron star.)
Harsha Blumer of West Virginia College and Samar Safi-Harb of the College of Manitoba in Canada just lately revealed outcomes from the Chandra observations of J1818.0-1607 in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
This composite picture incorporates a large discipline of view within the infrared from two NASA missions, the Spitzer House Telescope and the Vast-Discipline Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), taken earlier than the magnetar’s discovery. X-rays from Chandra present the magnetar in purple. The magnetar is situated near the aircraft of the Milky Manner galaxy at a distance of about 21,000 light-years from Earth.
Different astronomers have additionally noticed J1818.0-1607 with radio telescopes, such because the NSF’s Karl Jansky Very Giant Array (VLA), and decided that it provides off radio waves. This suggests that it additionally has properties just like that of a typical “rotation-powered pulsar,” a sort of neutron star that provides off beams of radiation which can be detected as repeating pulses of emission because it rotates and slows down. Solely 5 magnetars together with this one have been recorded to additionally act like pulsars, constituting lower than 0.2% of the identified neutron star inhabitants.
The Chandra observations might also present assist for this common concept. Safi-Harb and Blumer studied how effectively J1818.0-1607 is changing power from its lowering charge of spin into X-rays. They concluded this effectivity is decrease than that usually discovered for magnetars, and sure inside the vary discovered for different rotation-powered pulsars.
The explosion that created a magnetar of this age can be anticipated to have left behind a detectable particles discipline. To seek for this supernova remnant, Safi-Harb and Blumer regarded on the X-rays from Chandra, infrared knowledge from Spitzer, and the radio knowledge from the VLA. Based mostly on the Spitzer and VLA knowledge they discovered attainable proof for a remnant, however at a comparatively massive distance away from the magnetar. As a way to cowl this distance the magnetar would want to have traveled at speeds far exceeding these of the quickest identified neutron stars, even assuming it’s a lot older than anticipated, which might enable extra journey time.
NASA’s Marshall House Flight Heart manages the Chandra program. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory’s Chandra X-ray Heart controls science from Cambridge Massachusetts and flight operations from Burlington, Massachusetts.
For extra Chandra photos, multimedia and associated supplies, go to: http://www.nasa.gov/chandra