A fast-spinning, ultramagnetic, 500-year-old baby neutron star has been seen zipping at never-before-seen speeds through the Milky Way.
It flickers X-rays and radio waves of this giant baby – adorable named J1818.0-1607 – would probably only appear in the sky when Nicolaus Copernicus, the Polish scientist who suggested that the sun (and not the earth) was the center of the universe, then first up in the sky.
If Copernicus had orbital X-ray telescopes or powerful radio receivers, he would have witnessed the birth of a magnetar: a super-rare, violent species of neutron star with extreme, twisted up magnetic fields. Just 500 years later (assuming astronomers got their age right), this screaming baby is still spinning faster than any known magnetar at one revolution every 1
Like all neutron stars, J1818.0-1607 would have appeared after the explosive death of a large star – known as a supernova – as the shattered remnant of its core. Neutron stars are small in astrophysical terms, not wider than Madison, Wisconsin. But as the densest known objects in the universe except for black holes – full of matter crushed to the point where atoms lose their structural integrity and gather to resemble the nucleus of a single giant atom neutron stars can be as massive as full-size stars.
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Only a small proportion of neutron stars are magnetars. But that is not the only unusual thing about J1818.0-1607. It is also a pulsar, a type of ultra-fast, cosmic guy that attenuates and brightens with each rotation.
“Only five magnetars including this one have been recorded to act as pulsars that make up less than 0.2% of the known neutron star population,” said researchers involved in the study at a NASA announcement.
To determine the age of the magnet, researchers tracked how it lowered over time and estimated the spin rate at which it was born. From its initial rotational speed, it would have taken 500 years for the newborn magnetar to brake to its current speed. However, this age estimate is somewhat unreliable according to a paper published on November 26, 2020 in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
Because the magnetar is so young, astronomers should be able to spot the rest of the supernova that gave birth to it, and scientists could have found it a “relatively large” distance from the magnetar. If the magnetar really is 500 years old, and the supernova remnant really is the remnants of the magnetar’s birth, it has moved between 13 and 26 million km / h through the Milky Way throughout its life – faster than any of the approximately 3,000 other known neutron stars. However, if astronomers estimated the wrong age for the magnetar, or scientists identified the wrong residue, then this youngster may not be moving very fast.
But even though this baby is a little newborn in astronomical terms, there may be an even younger magnetar in it The Milky Way, though perhaps a slower one. As WordsSideKick.com previously reported, scientists believe they may have witnessed the actual birth of a magnetar in a distant galaxy last year, making the magnetar no older than a human toddler.
Originally published on WordsSideKick.com.