Unusual neutron star rotating every 76 seconds discovered in stellar graveyard

Unusual neutron star rotating every 76 seconds discovered in stellar graveyard

Unusual neutron star rotating every 76 seconds discovered in stellar graveyard

The MeerKAT telescope detecting the star. Credit: Danielle Futeselaar

An international team led by a scientist from the University of Sydney has discovered a neutron star emitting an unusual radio signal that spins extremely slowly, rotating once every 76 seconds.

The star is unique because it resides in the “neutron star graveyard”, where no pulsation is expected. The discovery was made by the MeerTRAP team using the MeerKAT radio telescope in South Africa and is published in natural astronomy.

The star was initially detected from a single pulse. It was then possible to confirm multiple pulses using simultaneous consecutive eight-second sky images, to confirm its position.

Neutron stars are extremely dense remnants of supernova explosions of massive stars. Scientists know about 3,000 of them in our galaxy. However, the new discovery is unlike anything seen so far. The team thinks it could belong to the theoretical class of ultra-long-period magnetars, stars with extremely strong magnetic fields.

Lead researcher Dr Manisha Caleb, formerly of the University of Manchester and now the University of Sydney, said: “Amazingly, we only detect radio emissions from this source for 0.5% of its period. rotation.

“That means it’s very lucky that the radio beam crossed with Earth.

Credit: University of Sydney

“So it’s likely that there are many more of these very slowly rotating stars in the galaxy, which has important implications for understanding how neutron stars are born and age.

“The majority of pulsar surveys don’t look for such long periods, so we have no idea how many of these stars might exist.”

The newly discovered neutron star is named PSR J0901-4046 and appears to have at least seven different types of pulses, some of which are strongly periodic. It shows the characteristics of pulsars, ultra-long period magnetars and even fast radio bursts – brief flashes of radio emission at random locations in the sky.

“It’s the start of a new class of neutron stars. How or if it relates to other classes remains to be explored. There are probably many more out there. We just have to to look at.” said Dr. Caleb.

Astrophysicists theorize a new type of neutron star

More information:
Manisha Caleb, Discovery of a radio-emitting neutron star with an ultra-long spin period of 76 s, natural astronomy (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41550-022-01688-x. www.nature.com/articles/s41550-022-01688-x

Provided by the University of Sydney

Quote: Unusual neutron star spinning every 76 seconds discovered in stellar graveyard (2022, May 30) Retrieved May 30, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-05-unusual-neutron-star-seconds-stellar .html

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