The Hyderabad-Deccan English Daily


NASA'S Swift reveals new phenomenon in a neutron star


NASA'S Swift reveals new phenomenon in a neutron star

Washington, May 30 (IBNS): Astronomers using NASA's Swift X-ray Telescope have observed a spinning neutron star suddenly slowing down, yielding clues they can use to understand these extremely dense objects.

A neutron star is the crushed core of a massive star that ran out of fuel, collapsed under its own weight, and exploded as a supernova.

A neutron star can spin as fast as 43,000 times per minute and boast a magnetic field a trillion times stronger than earth's. Matter within a neutron star is so dense a teaspoonful would weigh about a billion tons on earth.

This neutron star, 1E 2259+586, is located about 10,000 light-years away toward the constellation Cassiopeia. It is one of about two dozen neutron stars called magnetars, which have very powerful magnetic fields and occasionally produce high-energy explosions or pulses.

Observations of X-ray pulses from 1E 2259+586 from July 2011 through mid-Apr 2012 indicated the magnetar's rotation was gradually slowing from once every seven seconds, or about eight revolutions per minute.

On Apr 28, 2012, data showed the spin rate had decreased abruptly, by 2.2 millionths of a second, and the magnetar was spinning down at a faster rate.

"Astronomers have witnessed hundreds of events, called glitches, associated with sudden increases in the spin of neutron stars, but this sudden spin-down caught us off guard," said Victoria Kaspi, a professor of physics at McGill University in Montreal. She leads a team that uses Swift to monitor magnetars routinely.

Astronomers dubbed the event an "anti-glitch," said co-author Neil Gehrels, principal investigator of the Swift mission at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "It affected the magnetar in exactly the opposite manner of every other clearly identified glitch seen in neutron stars."

The discovery has important implications for understanding the extreme physical conditions present within neutron stars, where matter becomes squeezed to densities several times greater than an atomic nucleus. No laboratory on Earth can duplicate these conditions.

The internal structure of neutron stars is a long-standing puzzle.

Current theory maintains a neutron star has a crust made up of electrons and ions; an interior containing oddities that include a neutron superfluid, which is a bizarre state of matter without friction; and a surface that accelerates streams of high-energy particles through the star's intense magnetic field.

The streaming particles drain energy from the crust.

The crust spins down, but the fluid interior resists being slowed. The crust fractures under the strain. When this happens, a glitch occurs.

There is an X-ray outburst and the star gets a speedup kick from the faster-spinning interior.

Processes that lead to a sudden rotational slowdown constitute a new theoretical challenge.

On Apr 21, 2012, just a week before Swift observed the anti-glitch, 1E 2259+586 produced a brief, but intense X-ray burst detected by the Gamma-ray Burst Monitor aboard NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.

The scientists think this 36-millisecond eruption of high-energy light likely signaled the changes that drove the magnetar's slowdown.

"What is really remarkable about this event is the combination of the magnetar's abrupt slowdown, the X-ray outburst, and the fact we now observe the star spinning down at a faster rate than before," said lead author Robert Archibald, a graduate student at McGill.

Goddard manages Swift, which was launched in November 2004. The telescope is operated in collaboration with Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pa., the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and Orbital Sciences Corp. in Dulles, Va. International collaborators are in the United Kingdom and Italy, and the mission includes contributions from Germany and Japan.

Image Credit: NASA


2013-05-30






Comments


No comments yet! Be the first one to leave a comment.


Add Comment

Name:
Comment:
Enter the Numbers in the image


Latest Videos:
Girl forced into prostitution by brother in law in Falaknuma police limits ESL Narsimhan Governor Telangana and Andhra Pradesh at Womens college Koti
Mayor Majid Hussain, Ahmed Pasha Quadri visited OGH Mortuary for victims of Shock circuit Bomb hoax at Koti Hyderabad

Related Articles:

Pop star Taylor Swift turns nerdy for Ew! skit ..
Taylor Swift is unbelievable, says Jeff Bridges ..
Katy Perry, Taylor Swift feud over backup dancers ..
NASAs Swift satellite discovers new black hole ..
Taylor Swift targets emotions? ..
Google Doodle celebrates spectacular annual celestial shower ..
Why Selena Gomez doesnt talk to Taylor Swift about Justin Bieber ..
Rare explosion created galaxys youngest black hole ..
Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift fragrances loss making venture ..
Taylor Swift hasnt dated since split from Harry Styles ..
Taylor Swift finds love in Harry Styles? ..

NASA catches X-ray action at Milky Way's center

Washington, Jan 9 (IBNS) Recent observations by NASA's Swift spacecraft have provided scientists a unique glimpse into the activity at the center of

Supernova blast helps determine binary star system age

Washington, Dec 5 (IBNS) Data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has revealed faint remnants of a supernova explosion and helped researchers deter

New Chandra movie features neutron star action

Washington, Jan 8 (IBNS) Unlike with some blockbuster films, the sequel to a movie from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory is better than the first.

Maruti Suzuki celebrated the fifth anniversary of its entry level sedan Swift Dzire with its customers

Kolkata, Apr 29 (IBNS): India's leading car manufacturer Maruti Suzuki celebrated the fifth anniversary of its entry level sedan Swift Dzire with its

First-ever changes in an exoplanet atmosphere

Washington, June 29 (IBNS) An international team of astronomers using data from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has made an unparalleled observation, d

Strobe-like flashes found in suspected binary protostar

Washington, Feb 8 (IBNS) Two of NASA's great observatories, the Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes, have teamed up to uncover a mysterious infant st

NASA's Swift produces ultraviolet maps of galaxies

Washington, June 5 (IBNS) Astronomers at NASA and Pennsylvania State University have used NASA's Swift satellite to create the most detailed ultravio

Hubble maps 3-D structure of material around erupting star

Washington, June 5 (IBNS) A flash of light from a stellar outburst has provided a rare look at the 3-D structure of material ejected by an erupting no

Paramount Pictures introduces 'Star Trek Academy'

Mumbai, May 2 (IBNS): While all the trekkies are eagerly waiting for the second installment of director J. J. Abrams' Star Trek, Paramount Pictures h

Maruti car sales up 50 percent in December

New Delhi, Jan 1: India's largest car manufacturer Maruti Suzuki on Friday posted an increase of 50.6 percent in sales to 84,804 units in December thi

Related News

     
     

This page was created in 0.306111097336 seconds